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Guy X

cast: Jason Biggs, Natasha McElhone, Jeremy Northam, Michael Ironside, and Sean Tucker

director: Saul Metzstein

98 minutes (15) 2005
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
Rudy Spruance has just arrived at his new posting. A US Marine with a troubled past, Spruance has scored a posting to Hawaii where he hopes to keep his head down long enough to finish his tour. The only problem is he's in the Arctic Circle, at the furthest flung Marine base in the world and everyone believes he should be there...

Buried on release and limping onto DVD, Guy X is rapidly becoming the latest in a long line of films completed and basically shelved. It's a real shame too because there's a lot to enjoy here, especially in the central cast. Jason Biggs in particular is superb, finally throwing off the comedy persona that's dogged him since American Pie and turning in a performance that's unusual, mature and strangely threatening. Rudy Spruance may be in the wrong place but he fits remarkably well, Biggs' slow-burn performance slotting into the strange world of the base almost straight away.

Natasha Mcelhone is equally impressive as Irene Teal, the base commander's aide, sometime girlfriend and object of Spruance's affections. She's a perfect foil for Biggs, utterly relaxed and calm where he's clearly seething, and she quickly becomes the anchor for both him and the viewer in this strange new world. Jeremy Northam, as the splendidly named Colonel Lane Woolrap rounds out the central cast with a performance that's very similar to Biggs. Both Spruance and Woolrap are extremely funny tightly wound characters, and the two men have a strangely paternal relationship from the start. However, where Spruance is long-suffering, Woolrap is deeply disturbed and much of the film revolves around exactly why.

If it had simply been the story of a marine in the wrong place, Guy X would have been satisfying enough. It's funny and cheerfully odd in a remarkably endearing way, especially the sequences around the yearly Midnight Sun party. However, as the film continues it takes a very surprising turn into far darker territory that marks it out as something genuinely unusual. It's not quite as seismic a change as the one in From Dusk Till Dawn but it sill requires an adjustment from the viewer and may go some way towards explaining the film's lack of a general release.

Despite this, Guy X has been unfairly treated. A brave central performance from Biggs, some wonderful moments of Northern Exposure-style comedy, and a twist that hits you straight between the eyes makes this a highly unusual, at times unsettling little film. Highly recommended.

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