The Passion of Darkly Noon (Philip Ridley, 1995)
Ah, 1995. I vaguely remember all the teenaged girls swooning over this movie back in the day. I assume it had something to do with Brendan Fraser's naked backside, which appears briefly. This is back when both Fraser and a deliciously sensual Ashley Judd's stars both eclipsed that of their co-star, an already well-traveled, but not yet A-list, actor named Viggo Mortensen. (In fact, it was the trifecta of this film, The Prophecy, and Albino Alligator, all released in 1995-96, that really propelled Mortensen into the public conscioiusness in a way he hadn't been previously. Then along came Peter Jackson, and the rest is history.) Because of all the fangirl-worship, I always pushed this one onto the backburner when it came to actually sitting down and checking it out; I shouldn't have.
As we open, Darkly Noon (Fraser), the only son of a now-deceased strictly religioius couple, regains consciousness in the woods. (Given his injuries, I think we are to assume there was some sort of vehicular accident; we find out later what really went down.) He finds his way to a dirt road and stumbles down it for a while, eventually almost getting hit by Jude (Apollo 13's Loren Dean), a delivery guy who's one of the only people from the nearby town who is willing to interact with a couple of local outcasts, Callie (Judd) and her currently-absent boyfriend Clay (Mortensen). Jude drops him there, and Callie nurses him back to health. Darkly has never met anyone quite like Callie, overtly sensual and free-spirited; it doesn't take long before his religious beliefs are butting heads with his attraction to her. This is exacerbated when Clay comes home, and then even further when Darkly, on a walk in the woods, meets Roxy (Twin Peaks' Grace Zabriskie), who has quite a grudge against Callie...
I'm pretty sure Ridley (Heartless) wanted this movie to feel like a dream, despite the realist nature of the cinematography (nothing is ever in soft focus here, and as Captain Peacock was wont to say, "thank heaven for that."). It's the only way to pass off some of the movie's sillier scenes (more than once I was put in mind of that annoying blowing plastic bag in American Beauty) and still like it as much as I did. The acting is impeccable all around, the movie is usually well-paced (there are a couple of early scenes that drag like Ashley Judd's shift over her nipples), and the subject matter is just crazy all the way around. Did I mention Lou Myers (A Different World) doing his best Garrett Morris impersonation as the town's undertaker/ex-preacher? Fun stuff indeed. *** 1/2