Appellate Judge Tom Becker was hoping this would be a history of the classic haircut. No such luck.
Arthur is suffering from terminal insomnia. Needless to say, this has wreaked havoc on his marriage as well as every other part of his life. He spends his days and nights dictating some kind of a journal, smoking, driving, going up and down escalators, and watching porn.
One day, Arthur cuts off his left hand. He does this, according to his wife, so that he can go to the hospital and be put under general anesthesia, thus getting some sleep. Unfortunately, the general anesthesia doesn't work, and the doctors are left to puzzle over the case of the unsleeping man.
What is wrong with Arthur?
Damned if I know and hell if I care. Fade is such a self-consciously arty film, told in fragments, monologues, flashbacks and forwards, and the like, that it's difficult to figure out what is going on and impossible to get too worked up about it.
There actually is a rare but deadly form of insomnia, Fatal Familial Insomnia. But the doctors in this film don't act like doctors; they aren't excited at the prospect of treating someone with an exotic ailment. They aren't interested in helping Arthur at all. They just give some generic definitions for the word "disease" and send the poor guy home. Of course, Arthur and his wife didn't seek medical treatment for his "terminal illness" in the first place, opting instead for the kitchen-table hand amputation, so it's all pretty much a wash.
Obviously, this isn't meant to be taken literally. Writer/Director Anthony Stagliano did not make a film about a disease or coping with the effects of a disease. Unfortunately, he didn't make a film about anything. There's no story here, and it's not a character study, since we don't get to know the characters well enough to care about them. David Connolly does what he can as the afflicted Arthur, but there's not a lot for him to do other than mouth a few pretensions to nobody in particular. As the lovely and even less developed character of the wife, Sarah Lassez seems to have no idea what to do. Toward the end, she has to give a long, irrelevant speech about Abelard and Heloise, and she sounds like she has no clue as to who they are. The only "name" actor here is Michael T. Weiss, who starred on the cult TV favorite The Pretender as Jarod the genius. If he's so smart, what's he doing in this movie?
Cinema Epoch gives us a middling release. The picture is kinda dull and a bit speckly, though I'm guessing this is a problem with the source material. The sound is a bit weak, so the lack of subtitles is a problem. The main extra is an interview that Director Stagliano gave on a cable TV show called The American Avant Garde. The host of this program is one Karl Krogstad, who is very effusive and complimentary to Stagliano. When pressed about what the film means, Stagliano mentions the nature of identity. This is film-school speak for, "I really didn't have anything to say, but I had some cool voice over stuff and music."
Fade aspires to be an edgy, thought-provoking experiment. It's not. Pretentious and annoying, it's just another uninteresting no-budget film charitably being given a DVD release.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
• Interview with Anthony Stagliano on "The American Avant Garde"
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