Nicolas Cage's Night of the Iguana

Separated at birth? (Hans Hilewaert, Creative Commons)

Many and deep are the risible absurdities running like a silty delta through Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Take for instance Val Kilmer’s character, who appears at the beginning, disappears for an hour and then reappears at the end suddenly acting like an even bigger wacko than Nicolas Cage’s title character. Where did that come from?

Or consider the fact that Cage isn’t really a “bad” lieutenant. He saves somebody’s life and takes care of his father’s dog. Harvey Keitel wouldn’t have done that, no way.

Then there is the break-dancing dead guy … and the gator-cam by the side of the freeway … and Eva Mendes’ high-end hooker’s sudden resolve to go to rehab and get pregnant … and Fairuza Balk’s S&M cameo.

but weirdest of all is the long iguana sequence. A couple of good-looking iguanas, no doubt, but their relationship to the plot is hard to unpack. They are, we presume, a hallucination, but maybe not. Are they supposed to symbolize the bad lieutenant’s reptilian morals, his devolutionary slide? The dark night of the iguana soul, a la Tennessee Williams?

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