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La Femme Anne

[whitespace] Shattered Image
But Is It All a Dream? Anne Parillaud and William Baldwin in 'Shattered Image.'

Anne Parillaud takes up her assassin weapons again in Raul Ruiz's 'Shattered Image'

By Richard von Busack

RAUL RUIZ IS purportedly a Chilean director whose claimed 100-plus film output seems to be an elaborate prank by a conspiracy of underground filmmakers who took the name "Raul Ruiz" to baffle the public. Shattered Image is the first English-language film by Ruiz--if that's his name--and it's a sometimes enthralling, often oddball, sometimes drowsy thriller that's an unauthorized spinoff of La Femme Nikita. The only thing Shattered Image can be compared to with any confidence is the equally peculiar 1967 Ken Russell film Billion Dollar Brain, a gorgeous, errantly strange installment in the Harry Palmer spy film series. (Someday, Billion Dollar Brain will get the reverence it deserves; Russell never made a better movie, and sadly it was only his second one.)

Anne Parillaud, the snake-lean French actress who played Nikita, is again a femme assassin of men with a wardrobe of thigh-length slips, a crate of cigarettes, a scraggly black Chrissie Hynde hairdo and a foam-rubber-lined case of automatic pistols. But is it all a dream? Snapping out of this Slaygirl fantasy, we rejoin our heroine, who, in this other reality, is a timid little heiress named Jessie with scars on her wrists. She's on a Jamaican honeymoon with her new husband, the slippery Brian (William Baldwin). Between these two realities--one pleasant, the other deadly--the two women dream of each other. Parillaud's flat, demotic English goes beyond the call of a movie-length dream sequence; Baldwin practically wears a T-shirt reading "I am a weasel," and it's hard to take Shattered Image completely seriously. Yet the film is seriously disorienting, producing some serious shudders. (One lovely moment: Jessie receives an anonymous bottle of champagne with a gift card that reads, "You are as good as dead.") It's not a patch on Ruiz's still theatrically unreleased Genealogies of a Crime but certainly worth a gamble for the very adventurous who might read some profundity into it.

Shattered Image (Unrated; 103 min.), directed by Raul Ruiz, written by Duane Poole, photographed by Robbie Muller and starring Anne Parillaud and William Baldwin.

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From the December 3-9, 1998 issue of Metro.

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