“It’s like watching a presenter discovering PowerPoint for the first time…”

Having cinematically cut his teeth in the genre of film noir with Stormy Monday back in 1988, director Mike Figgis is out to deconstruct it in his latest film Suspension of Disbelief.

His first thriller, which starred Tommy Lee Jones, Sting and Melanie Griffith as the femme fatale, still manages to hold up today due to its sense of style and atmosphere, which was to the credit of the director and the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins.

Suspension of Disbelief
Directed by
Mike Figgis
Sebastian Koch, Lotte Verbeek, Emilia Fox
Release Date
7 November 2013
Rob’s Grade: D+

The longevity of this turgid, pretentious serving of smugness will most likely last to the end of this review. Figgis cobbles together old tricks (split screen from Timecode, the jazzy soundtrack a la Stormy Monday) and pulls out every other trick in a filming and editing handbook. It’s like watching a presenter discovering PowerPoint for the first time and using every stale animated motion used on the screen. Where was the “whoosh” sound during transitions?

The plot, as it is, begins with a film within a film, and follows the death of a troubled young girl (Lotte Verbeek) which may or may not merely be a figment of the imagination of its screenwriter protagonist (played by Sebastian Koch). Why the young girl is drawn to the old brain-blocked writer in the first place reeks of early Joe Eszterhas over-indulgent wish-fulfillment. The film taking place within the narrative is no better, attempting to break down noir cliches or mock them. It’s never too clear.

Throughout, Figgis tosses in random aforementioned split screens, slow-mo shots, dissolves and perhaps the most odd musical choices possible (I was waiting for Benny Hill’s “Yakety Sax” to kick in at times). None of it aides the narrative and none of it mattered to anyone but perhaps Figgis himself.

It’s been almost 20 years since Figgis was Leaving Las Vegas. This film feels as though he’s ended up in Reno.

by Rob Rector