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Old 04-08-2008, 02:20 PM   #1
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Purgatory House

Cindy Baer
Studio/Production Company:
Free Dream Pictures



Bold, unabashedly artsy, fearlessly original, often mind-boggling and nothing less than 100% provocative, “Purgatory House” is one of the wildest, freshest films that I have seen in a long time and yet it is never sensationalistic, never goes for cheap shocks or grotesqueries. In the hands of another filmmaker this film could have easily fallen into a rut of predictable “Afterschool Special” clichés and showy gimmicks. But it is probably because “Purgatory House” is about, written by and starring a fourteen year old girl rather than an older, jaded, cynical or pretentious screenwriter that it can be so raw, uncensored, uninhibited and honest. Writer-star Celeste Marie Davis’ language is so amazing, deep, rich, eloquent, beautiful and astute. Her insightful observations and take on the world around her are breathtaking, moving and captivating. Of course, this is not a total solo act and Davis gets ample support from director Cindy Davis who not only gets the human element, the heart and soul of Celeste’s story, she gets her head, her mindset and supports the screenplay with a constantly surprising grab bag of visual tricks, special effects and inventive scenarios.

Without giving away too much, the film involves a troubled young girl navigating the grey area between heaven and hell, a purgatory that, here, recalls nothing less than a rehab center for teens -- albeit one where a white tuxedoed St. James (Jim Hanks in one of three roles) is one of the resident counselors. With a plot that recalls the structure of “Groundhog Day”, playing on the monotonous repetition of the mundane in its search for meaning, “Purgatory House” is wildly experimental, offbeat, technically ambitious and boldly visionary. But, at the heart of any film, is the narrative, the ideas, the tone and the feelings that the creators want to express; here the rich, funny, painful and moving story by Celeste Marie Davis.
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