Stars: Jeremy Cooper, Lindsay Duncan, Viggo Mortensen, Sheila Moore, Duncan Fraser, David Longworth, Robert Koons, David Bloom, Evan Hall, Codie Lucas Wilbee, Sherry Bie | Written and Directed by Philip Ridley
The beauty of loving films is that no matter how many you’ve seen, there are so many out there still to be discovered… One of these for me was The Reflecting Skin which is being released this weel on Blu-ray. It’s a true hidden gem that needs to be seen…
The Reflecting Skin is set in the American Mid-west in the 1950s and takes the viewpoint of Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper) who becomes obsessed with the fact that a widow, Dolphin Blue (Lindsay Duncan) is a vampire. When one of Seth’s friends is found dead, all eyes are on the boy’s father who has a history that puts him under suspicion and the pressure leads him to commit suicide. When Seth’s brother Cameron (Viggo Mortensen) returns home to look after Seth and his mother, his friendship with Dolphin soon leads to trouble.
As we see events through the eyes of Seth, nothing can be taken literally, especially when Philip Ridley says that these events are also interpreted memories by Seth as an older man. There is a lot of imagery and suggestion at work, and plenty of misunderstandings by Seth that lead us into a strange world where nothing is as it seems. It is even fair to say that by the end of the film the audience has many questions surrounding the boy himself that only their interpretation of the movie can answer.
One of these questions surrounds the black Cadillac that is seen many times in the movie, I’m sure a whole essay could be written about what the car and its inhabitants represent to not only Seth but the audience too and is vital to the true meaning behind the movie. His reactions and actions to the car show a dark side to the child that makes all actions in the film not exactly what they seem.
On Blu-ray The Reflecting Skin looks very beautiful. From the bright yellow corn fields to the oppressing grey and blacks of the people who inhabit the area there is a dichotomy of life and death that works perfectly into an American Gothic style. In fact, there was a time that the film was going to be called that. There is also a dark sense of humour that runs through the film, starting with the very first scenes that include a prank with a frog.
When it comes to performances the casting is very good for The Reflecting Skin, especially Jeremy Cooper as Seth Dove. Although the audience does connect to the boy and sympathise with him, there is an uneasiness surrounding him because something just isn’t right. Lindsay Duncan as Dolphin Blue too is another surreal character, and this is for the most part because of Seth’s view of the woman. Duncan fully understands the role though and her oddness is perfectly played out for the audience to similarly distrust her, until of course we pity her.
Soda Pictures’ release of The Reflecting Skin on Blu-ray is well worth buying, especially as this is the first time we’ve been able to buy the film in such a high quality release. Packed with special features it is getting the respect it deserves. Now if they can get the rights to Philip Ridley’s follow up The Passion of Darkly Noon, a favourite of mine, I’ll be a very happy fan.
The Reflecting Skin is available on Blu-ray in the UK from 30th November, courtesy of Soda Pictures.