In his first leading film role Iggy Pop plays Bill, a half-blind rockstar dying of cancer. Clearly the rockstar element is not too much of a stretch for the man, but his performance is great and it’s surprising that this is the first time he’s had a leading role. We can fully expect to be seeing more of him, as he more than holds his own against those he shares the screen with. And this more impressive because Blood Orange is a low budget arty thriller, and features only four characters. A loose link in the performances would completely unbalance it.
All four performers do good work, and although the film does become a little ponderous in the middle third, the overall movie is a crackingly entertaining and satisfyingly twisty thriller.
We’re in Ibizia, far from the crowds and up in the hills in a luxurious modern villa that looks like it could have been designed by Stanley Kubrick. Retired rockstar Bill and his very beautiful younger wife Isabelle (Kacey Clarke) live a quiet undisturbed life, with Isabelle occasionally indulging her sexual whims with other men – completely with Bill’s knowledge. As the film begins she has started to use her overt sexual attractiveness to dominate the quiet swimming pool cleaner David. As the time flows gently, in what could be a simple art film about relationships, Lucas (Ben Lamb) arrives demanding money. He’s the son of Isabelle’s previous rich ex-husband, who was also dying when they were together. Isabelle had used Lucas for sex during this time too, and he had been horrified to discover that Isabelle was the sole recipient of the large inheritance.
What could be a very straightforward threat, capture and kidnap deal instead becomes an unusually philosophical look at life, love, death and fulfilment. Four characters in one location (even one as beautiful as the Villa Casa Tyane where the film was shot) is a brave thing to do, and given that it’s a shame that the middle section of the film loses its way a little. It seems a little out of step with the rest of the film, and possibly a little too slow in dissecting the relationships. There is a also seems to be a repetitiveness in the conversations which could have been avoided. That said, it is not at a loss – the beginning and end make for a very tight storytelling.
Audience sympathies change from character to character very skilfully, with an artful deftness which is impressive. It’s nice as an audience member to have previously made decisions about characters undermined. If the central section had had a little more meat to it, the movie would’ve been a full four starrer. It’s also nice to see a film set in a Spanish location with no gangsters.
Blood Orange is out on DVD now and is surprising fun.