Peter Greenaway has developed a cultish following through films like The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, Prospero's Books, and The Pillow Book, epics of debauchery. His latest release, 8 1/2 Women, is minor compared to those monumental tributes to kinkiness. The story of a recently widowed man and his effete son, 8 1/2 Women won't win Greenaway any new fans and may not even appeal to those who enjoy the grandness of his past works.
Greenaway's philosophy of more-is-better permeates his films in their design (Almodovar's just subletting a room in Greenaway's neon house) and in themes: the father-son combo in 8 1/2 Women populate their newly barren house with concubines (hence the title). Greenaway may strive for Fellini-esque madness (the concubine idea is hatched after a screening of that ode to indecision, 8 1/2), but he tries too hard. 8 1/2 Women manages to be both pretentious and silly, not an easy balance to achieve. This film is of absolutely no interest to anyone not working on a Greenaway grad school thesis. The acting is inconsequential, the plot inane, the characters shallow (although the father-son incest will likely be a new thing for most viewers), and the comedy... well... not funny.
Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.E-mail Gil at [email protected]