Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS (Werner Herzog, 2009, USA)


No bad deed goes unrewarded. Werner Herzog’s intensely zany feature is delivered like a hit of crack cocaine followed by a shot of whiskey, a bi-polar narrative that never takes itself too seriously.

Terrence is a New Orleans police sergeant whose suffers his own Katrina, drowning in addiction, battered by the flotsam and jetsam of an emotional tsunami. After rescuing a trapped inmate, he is rewarded with a promotion and chronic back pain: he is empowered by his authoritarian position and reduced by his enslaving addictions. Terrence’s girlfriend is the typical hooker with a heart of gold, feeding his habit and supporting his crippled idiom. Through daily doses of Vicodin, he is able to function and is soon investigating a multiple homicide he believes is a gangland execution. Terrence begins abusing his official power as he falls under the spell of the prescribed narcotics, popping pills and ingesting opiates, stolen from defendants or terminally borrowed from the evidence locker. His behavior becomes more and more erratic until he is suspended from work which severs his life-line to attain narcotics. The plot is boilerplate, a predictable but delectable smorgasbord of drug induced hallucinations and poikilothermic perceptions: what happens is not as interesting as how it happens. In other words, it’s not about the drugs but the contraindications.

Werner Herzog and Nicolas cage take the audience on a whirlwind ride that veers precariously close to parody; from the director’s lizard-cam to Cage’s hysterical performance, the film is absolutely serious in its over-the-top bravura while never failing to strike the ulnar nerve. While the story is created from impossible elements, it is nonetheless made superficially believable by the excellent performances and beautiful cinematography.

Terrence is resurrected by the love of a woman…though he still has his bad days. Final Grade: (B+)

3 comments:

Paul D. Brazill said...

Screwball-noir! Loved it! Top review.

Alex DeLarge said...

Thanks Paul! Love your descriptive "screwball-noir":)

Lolita said...

I need to see this! The poster is simply wonderful.