Cinema: Madhouse Notes

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Dewy Interludes. That is understandable enough. There are graphic tortures, profane theophanies, demoniac masques and blasphemous orgies. There are also romantic interludes between Grandier and his illicit wife Madeleine (Gemma Jones) that are altogether too dewy for comfort. Instead of representing a counterpoint to the raging madness, these episodes serve only as sentimental footnotes and rob the film of any adequate perspective.

Russell is enamored like some Pre-Raphaelite by the stuff of damnation. This gives his work a decadent, self-indulgent quality that makes for unique and often stunning spectacle. But it finally cripples him as an artist.

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