Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Sam Quartin, Dylan Sprouse, Thea Sofie Loch Næss, Nekhebet Kum Juch, Craig Stark, Eden Brolin, Max Madsen, Alma Martinez, Barbara Palvin
Written by: Kerry Mondragon
Directed by: Kerry Mondragon
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 93
Date: 02/26/2021
IMDB

Tyger Tyger (2021)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Blake Ops

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This arty indie has a lot of style, and it often feels like an outsider artwork from a psychedelic era, but it lacks a sense of rebellion or force; it eventually seems to be meandering aimlessly.

Blake (Sam Quartin) robs a pharmacy during a pandemic, and comes away with a trunkload of pills. She and her friend, the unspeaking Bobby (Nekhebet Kum Juch), head toward the fringes to Free City to distribute the supposedly life-saving meds. Along the way, they kidnap — and then enlist the aid of — heroin addict Luke (Dylan Sprouse).

They meet Joe (Craig Stark), who grants the trio entry into the strange place, filled with artworks and free-thinking outsiders, like Emerald (Thea Sofie Loch Næss). Before long, Blake and Luke realize that they have feelings for one another, but what if there's more to this place than meets the eye?

A writing and directing debut by Kerry Mondragon — himself a recovered addict — Tyger Tyger takes its name from William Blake's 1794 poem "The Tyger," although it's unclear whether there's a correlation, or if the poem is just another of the movie's art-pieces on display. The movie did luck out on timing, given that it's set during a pandemic, complete with mask-wearing, but it doesn't really seem to click with much else during the COVID-19 era. There's no sense of communal experience.

While Tyger Tyger focuses on rebels and outsiders, the movie itself doesn't seem to have much to say about those in control of the situation, or what's going on in the world. (It doesn't rebel against anything.) Indeed, it doesn't even have much to say about drug addiction, other than the idea that it just is. One gets the idea that the characters would be just as happy working as fashion models, staring blankly at cameras.

However, despite the wobbly cinematography, Mondragon does establish a genuinely weird mood, and his little world manages to mesmerize, along with the sounds of characters saying things that sound profound but probably mean nothing.

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