Brooklyn 45 Review: A Post-War Seance Turns Tense

When Alfred Hitchcock experimented with the idea of ​​a “one-shot film” in 1948, the film Rope, confused many viewers and critics. If you were going to make a movie, why would you modify your aesthetic to mimic a completely different medium? Why would it be in real-time, woven together to fabricate the vague illusion that there are few or no cuts? At the time, it all felt theatrical and too theatrical for people who probably would have preferred to see the play in theaters.


Yet 75 years later, the illusion that a film is taking place in real-time, in one location, is often captivating. Maybe people just don’t go to the theater anymore. Or maybe everyone is so inundated with MTV-style editing that a slower pace of enjoying the passing of time can be a kind of welcome escape.

MOVIEWEB VIDEO OF THE DAYSCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH THE CONTENT

That’s often what it feels like in the new genre-defining film, brooklyn 45. It’s theatrical by intent, with the chamber drama quality of a play in one or two acts, and feels like Agatha Christie through Sam Raimi. Shudder’s new film is set just after Christmas 1945, the first time the holiday was celebrated after the atrocities of World War II. US military and intelligence officials meet at the legacy of her friend, Lt. Col. Clive Hockstatter, whose wife recently took her own life. While they’re expecting a somewhat grim reunion, they (and viewers) could never anticipate the weirdness that awaits them.


Brooklyn Suspicious Session 45

When you’re stuck in a room with a group of people, it’s very important that the characters are interesting or magnetic enough to hold your attention. are mostly in brooklyn 45; again, they’re a little theatrical (slightly overacted, given to monologues, melodramatic), but, combined with the film’s quaint, old-school aesthetic, this is often charming.

There’s Marla (Anne Ramsay), a legendary interrogator and intelligence officer who has established a life in DC with a mildly educated husband (Ron E. Rains) and a limp. There’s Archibald, a stocky but flirtatious major who finds himself embroiled in a war crimes legal battle. There’s the uptight and angry Paul, another commander who is Clive Hockstatter’s best friend and who served under him along with Archibald. And then there’s Clive himself (Larry Fessenden), a widower who has lost all meaning in life and has sunk to the bottom of a bottle; That’s how madness lies.

They are an interesting bunch, united by stories of war, wounds, and a lingering cynicism and bitterness of war. However, Clive has more in mind for them than just dinner. He wants to perform a séance, silly as it sounds. He wants to know if there is something after death, if his wife just left or if a part of her is left, if life has no meaning for him now that the war is over and he is alone. He wants to make contact with the other side.

Larry Fessenden kills him

Brooklyn 45 with Larry Fessenden on Shudder
Shudder

this is where brooklyn 45 takes one of his bolder choices and totally succeeds with a sprawling monologue from Clive about his wife’s death and his search for meaning, from religion to metaphysics and beyond. Fessenden is amazing here, the camera enamored with him as she threatens to veer off the path of sanity before veering off into something more human.

Fessenden is known as a cult director who created some of the best independent horror films of the last few decades thanks to movies like Habit, Wendigoand last winter, but in reality he is a very underrated actor, beyond the performances in his own films. He has a sort of battered Jack Nicholson disposition, but with an aloof Gen X attitude, even at 60. He plays a very different type of character in Brooklyn 45, a stingy military man, but there’s something similarly unique about the character. character that almost automatically makes him more interesting than anyone in the room. It’s a truly brilliant performance.

That is the great transition point of brooklyn 45, an epic monologue that shifts the film into supernatural gear when a séance takes place. This is one of those movies that is inherently difficult to review, because there are so many incredibly unpredictable moments. Wherever you think the séance goes, it doesn’t. It’s rare to have a movie where you legitimately don’t know what to expect, and yet Brooklyn 45 consistently surprises, despite being self-consciously inundated with certain tropes and stylistic choices.

War, paranoia and American nightmares

Brooklyn 45 Cast on Shudder
Shudder

Ted Geoghegan is building something with his filmography and it’s interesting to watch. With his palette and composition of shots from the Golden Age of Hollywood, his wild combination of mystery, war, horror and suspense, and the theatrical presentation of him, brooklyn 45 is an extremely different film from the historical and hair-raising action of mohican and the dark horror of We are still here. And yet, Geoghegan’s exploration of American history and the traumas that have shaped it (and our present moment) continue.

Like a cinematic Howard Zinn, in different ways, his films combine to create a sort of underrepresented American story of tribalism, paranoia, scapegoating, and bloodshed. It’s remarkable how he can carry a similar thematic stream through stylistically different films, but he does it. it’s a little hard to compare brooklyn 45 to others in that way; they are ideological brothers but distant aesthetic cousins. The new film seems more like a detective novel or the great adaptation of Roman Polanski of Death and the Lady. It’s not exactly scary, although it does have its moments, and it’s not action-packed, but that’s not the point.

Finally, brooklyn 45 is an intellectually stimulating political and historical analogue of our current moment, and an amusing Hitchcockian experiment. Rope. It can be a little cheesy, a little over-the-top and undeniably theatrical, but the contrivance seems part of the point and doesn’t detract from what is a truly original and clever little movie with solid performances and master class from one man.

After premiering at this year’s SXSW Festival, brooklyn 45 will air on Shudder and AMC+ on June 9.

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