05 April 2010

Trouble In Mind

Trouble In Mind
United States - 1985
Director - Alan Rudolph
Charter Home Entertainment, 1986, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 51 minutes

There is an interesting result that comes about from the combination of the science fiction and noir genres. The future-noir or tech-noir, is more about atmosphere than plot, though this certainly doesn’t preclude the latter. There are certain visual elements that are largely indispensable to general expectations of noir and science fiction film individually. A gritty darkness and mystery on the one hand, and broadly plausible future technology and fashion on the other can each predictably invoke the feelings respective of their genres. The tropes of each enforce a narrative restraint on the other, allowing neither to stray too far into fantasy, and giving the film a subdued dreamlike and depressing quality. The future in these cases is never as wonderful and amazing as you want it to be, for the past keeps dogging its step.

No wonder they filmed it in Seattle. With the addition of a few old cars, what was once the site of the 1962 World’s Fair serves once again as the backdrop of this never-to-come future. This time, instead of Elvis’s gambling debts hounding him, we have Kris Kristofferson’s ex-cop just out of prison with his guilt hounding him.
My initial expectation from reading the box was that this was a low budget Blade Runner spinoff, starring Kris, Keith Carradine and Divine out of drag. But it has lacks the profound existential questions and emotional struggle. Nor is the rainy urban squalor very crowded or futuristic, and it’s quickly intercut with a drippy evergreen forest and secondary hippie characters.

Here the mix of the two genres winds up being much closer to the alternate present of Streets of Fire. Where that film made the 80’s seem like the future because it was combined with a gritty fantasy past, Trouble’s 1980's future goes largely undeveloped and relegated to a few odd hairstyles. It ends up being much more of a movie about an unsympathetic worn out old cop clutching at a last-ditch chance for happiness. Crouched under the grimy skies and decrepit optimism of "Rain City" (an actual nickname for Seattle), makes it even more depressing. Nevertheless it is that non sequitur ending that makes it a little intriguing. Doesn’t it?

No comments: