Philip Ridley (shown below, left, with his star, Jim Sturgess) is back to theatrical movie-making after nearly fifteen years. In HEARTLESS, he's come up with something so strange and frightening, marvelous and moving, apocalyptic and chilling -- and perhaps undecipher-able (but you probab-ly won't mind) -- that all TrustMovies can say is: See it. The man who made The Reflecting Skin and who wrote The Krays is an artist, and I don't think that it's so much that he won't compromise his vision, as it is that he can't. Just as well, too. In person, the fellow seems utterly gregarious and warm, delighted to be speaking to us and getting his new work
out and about.
Joseph Mawle, above), who offers our hero a deal by which he can rid himself of that unsightly facial blemish. This is one literal way in which the title figures in, but, trust me: You don't want to know specifics.
Timothy Spall, above, left, with Sturgess) and a loving mom (the priceless Ruth Sheen), a younger brother and more. And a beautiful foreign girl (Clémence Poésy, below).
Noel Clarke, two photos down), a luckless male hustler (below), the little-girl acolyte of Papa B, and -- in a very funny, scary single scene, Eddie Marsan (three photos down) as one of Papa's underlings who pays an explanatory visit to our soon-to-be non-hero.
Heartless, from IFC Films, opens today, November 19, at the IFC Center while simultaneously playing via IFC On-Demand. Click here for theatrical screening times and here to learn how to get the film On-Demand.
(To Mr. Ridley) You should make films more often -- or is that easier said than done?
Ridley: Much easier said than done. Ask the people with the money.
With only three films as writer director in almost 20 years, all of them good films, I am wondering: Were there a lot of other things besides making films that you wanted to do in the meantime?
I've never heard anyone even refer to the script of Jaws!
It's that gap between the script and finished film. There has to be a huge kind of alchemy to create that cinematic experience: color, composition, light, shade, texture. All of these things are what tell the story and you can't get that into script. There's got to be a huge leap.
It's like the shower scene in Psycho: In the script its just, "She's gets into the shower and is stabbed to death." But that's not what we're seeing. Instead it's something that changes the course of film history for the next 50 years and invents a whole genre of slasher films. When I do a script, it's visual experience. and most people cannot lift that visual experience off the page.
It's always hard to talk about my films as narratives. But I really do think there's a shift in how younger people are perceiving narrative. They're used to choosing and picking and mixing. Barrier are breaking down. When I was in school, there were so many arguments about different types of music.
Sturgess: I recently went to hear a band called Gorillaz: They are basically a combination of so many types of music. This was not so apparent to me until I saw them live. There is everything here: gospel music, reggae, electronic, Arabic, Mandarin -- and it is all put into something that's really popular. To me they are the greatest pop band in the world today. I am just backing up what Phil is saying -- that there is this hunger for all these different influences from around the world.
Ridley: Yes and it really dictates too much This has got to start breaking down, and it will. It already has in music. I remember a few years ago how some people said, "Oh this will be the end of music: Downloading! But then the industry began to find a way to make this work for them. And the movie industry has got to find a new way, too. Otherwise, what you're going to see is only three movies released in a single year, costing billions of dollars and each having Leonardo DiCaprio in it, and opening on 5,000 screens. We're almost at that point now -- with Avatar and Harry Potter. There used to be outlets for other types of films.
But there are these outlets now. We're seeing so many different films, small little films, tons of docmentaries. Opening for just one week of theatrical in one theater. People are trying.
It was a riot, yeah. I had an amazing time making it. We had to move really fast -- which allowed us to get into this place that made us go so fast. We'd come into work each morning charged up. We had some amazing experiences with it. I had an incredible time making this film.
I was talking to your agent, outside, telling her that I admire you so much fro making these little films. Because you could be making the bigger films. Sort of like Bruce Willis did after making it big -- dividing ihs time between smaller movies and blockbusters. Certain actor seem to do this.
Well, I love films and I love art and artisttic integrity, so to me it made perfect sense to do this. After 21, it really seemd to make sense. After that movie, which was the big film that made people assume that I would move to L.A. and make mainstream movies...
We did have our fears...
Did you hit them?
(He laughs) No, but I wondered where they had been. (Sturgess has made several film since 21, including the upcoming The Way Back.) I just shot a Peter Weir film, and I think, in casting me, he was responding to some of the other work I had done.