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Element Of Crime
cast: Michael Elphick, Esmonde Knight, Me Me Lai

director: Lars Von Trier

99 minutes (15) 1984
widescreen ratio 16:9
Tartan VHS retail
Also available to buy on DVD

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Mike Philbin
Element Of Crime, written by Tom Elling and Tomas Gļæ½slason, is a hideous filthy sweating truncated autopsy, whose cinematic delights read like an expressionistic poem. It features: psychoanalysis from Egypt of the prodigal detective, mirror imaging and photo overlays help to confuse the viewer and confound the plot, dead horses flopping on the ropes of drowned migraine, lots of shooting guns into the night sky, expressionistic horror backdrop of guilt, the battered skulls of flailing peasants, actions and dialogue are stylised as if played by cockroaches wearing human skin, stark lighting and brutal characterisation slowly unravel the sepia-toned happenings, a waking holocaust strewn with allegorical significance and suffocated with symbolic befuddlement.
   "I'm on my way to Halbestadt," drones central character Fischer (Elphick), "to the lockup."
   "Why do you have to keep torturing yourself?" Kim (Lai) asks.
   "I believe in joy," replies Fischer.
   Set somewhere in post-apocalyptic Northern Europe it looks like it was filmed on a derelict building site in Hackney. The movie is overwritten and seems to be a too literal translation of a work of Swedish literature, only watchable for its sheer grimness and desperation.
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