The Savage Eye, the marquee announces. Winner of Roy Thomson award at Edinburgh Film Festival. Raw. Gripping. Nakedly honest. (Blurbs from London reviews). I go in, doubtful.

Planes, terminals. A big-city airport. Passengers and well-wishers. Motion, confusion. Awkward, unlovely, sweating people—not the carefully selected, typical-American-man-of-the crowd extra. They stumble down the disembarking ramp, stare, search, smile, run to embrace. The camera follows, its angles and shots dictated by the erratic movements of ordinary people. A close-up—one woman, young, not beautiful but attractive, poised, conscious, as evident among these people as the professional in any sphere.

“Alone, stranger?” a male voice asks.


Her words I can accept, as necessary projection of her thought (“I hate the touch of flesh!”), but this slushy hollow-voiced “Oh-god-I’m-speaking-poetry” interrogator is a pretentious intrusion. His attempts at explanation (“I am your angel, double, vile dreamer, conscience, creator, God, ghost,” he breathes to the woman) explain nothing, but identify him as an obvious device to insert “deeper” levels of meaning. The poet’s (so he is identified at the film’s end) mouthings become patently-constructed flows of textbook imagery mixed with cryptic, pseudo-philosophic statements; he is annoying as commentator and unnecessary as interrogator, for we can enter the woman’s mind without him. But the film’s authors thought not.