(fr) wrote: It opens with pure abstraction, sights, sounds, we think we hear ambient music but maybe it isn't. We are immediately disoriented by the first impression the film has on us. After all, this is what Peter Winter is accustomed to. This is the way he sees the world, just like many movies use technique to appear the way their main characters see the world. Peter is obviously disturbed. But what makes him more disturbed is that he is setting out into a world of which he has long not been part. Clean, Shaven consists of an overtly and insistently mediated reality, Peter at the center of it. We are meant to presume we understand the underlying context of what we see, but Peter's mental illness too often transforms the world into a disorienting barrage of sounds and images. Peter Greene, an always memorable character actor whose filmography is too short, delivers a formidable rare bird of a performance. He is mournfully abnormal. He is possibly dangerous, indeed we're fairly sure. He is clearly enfeebled and debilitated by powerful paranoia fueling such self-destructive and extreme delusions. Which is he? Is he a victim or a psychopath? Both? Greene's stunned, piercing eyes bespeak endless lifetimes of agony. He could go either way at any moment, he lets us know in close to every scene in a mere handful of words in all. He is gravely, distressingly, convincing as someone whose true nature we cannot entirely fathom, much less he himself. Greene provides a perfect equilibrium. The result of Clean, Shaven is an atmospherically immersive experience, a story constructed entirely out of mood. What's even more disorienting is that to name the mood is very difficult. It is shot on grainy, desolate film stock in dilapidated towns, lonely roads, cramped bathrooms, germy outmoded kitchens, and low-rent motel rooms. A reliance on dialogue is something that writer-director Lodge Kerrigan actively avoids, as well as most traces of backstory or explanation. In fact, I'm actively avoiding using the term "schizophrenia" in any of my description because, although most descriptions of this movie do, the movie doesn't seem to directly mention it. It's just felt so deeply that we, again, are meant to presume that it is. Presumption, ironically, seems to be Peter's antagonist, outside of his intensely off-putting behavior. Based on something that we presume he does off-camera early in the film, a detective begins to track him and grows desperate to catch him. But he has no evidence. There is nothing for him, or for us, to go on to be certain of what we gather. But, like us, he finds himself, unexplainably, determined to grasp him. One could say that this detective---who barely if ever speaks, definitely even less than Peter who has maybe ten lines in all---is relatively closer to us, more comfortable, part of the outside world, but then one would presume wrong. This guy has a couple of screws loose; he just keeps a tight lid on it. But that tight lid turns all that suppression, whatever it's of, into aggression, which shoots first and asks questions later in sex and in violence. Actually we can only presume about him asking questions. But at that, that mood, which we might deem insanity itself, is everywhere apparent. The film ends on a deeply haunting note where that insanity seems to transmit, or infect. There is no outside world. In the world of Clean, Shaven, we all have screws loose. The 1990s was a decade notable for the alleged renewal of American independent cinema. It was when an emerging generation of new filmmakers decided to go to the edge and try to break new ground. Many did in their own ways, and the ones who have become the most tremendously influential and hold the most sway over audiences are the ones whose revisionist endeavors plug directly into the pop culture sensibility of their content. Lodge Kerrigan was quite the opposite. But the content of Clean, Shaven, his 1993 debut film, liberates him to explore certain formal possibilities with the medium that are rarely observed in more mainstream cinema. It's unremittingly comprised of a radical visual, and equally aural, style that challenges both Hollywood's creative and narratological concerns. Enraptured by a protagonist trapped in his own oppressive reality, Kerrigan crafts a film viewing experience that is more interested in provocation than it is in pleasure. I don't seem to have left much of any footprints of a hint of basis to desire seeing this movie. But there is positively a great amount of appeal in any film experience that taps into and draws out your most abstract moods and emotions. We're supposed to feel them all, or know them all, have a relationship with all of our capacity for feelings. And what's more, this is a piece that topples the opinion that movies are not capable of depicting internal life.