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Louise Linton surely knows what much of the country thinks of her. The much-maligned wife of former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been widely ridiculed during the past four years for such cringeworthy moments as holding up freshly printed bills at the U.S. Mint while wearing black leather gloves, an image that provoked many to compare her to Cruella de Vil.
So it’s refreshing that her directorial/screenwriting debut Me You Madness, in which she stars as a fashion- and fitness-obsessed narcissistic serial killer, very much indicates that she’s in on the joke. The problem is that it’s a godawful joke.
Release date: Feb 12, 2021
Linton, who also produced the film via her own company Stormchaser Films, plays Catherine Black, an obscenely wealthy (talk about type-casting) and murderous hedge-fund manager who lives in a palatial Malibu estate and seems to spend much more time on personal grooming and her fitness regime than work. The character, Linton informs us in a director’s statement, is inspired by such iconic cinematic femme fatales as Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct, Glenn Close’s Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction and the central figure in the classic 1945 noir Leave Her to Heaven (although the last homage would be more convincing if she knew that the name of that film’s star was spelled Gene, not Jean, Tierney).
Me You Madness is styled as a satirical riff on American Psycho, which Catherine freely acknowledges. She introduces herself in an opening narration containing a litany of F-bombs and in which she admires the man-killing properties of a black spider before popping it into her mouth and swallowing. (Not to worry, the end credits assure us that “Kiki the spider was not harmed, or eaten, during the making of the film.”)
“I’m happy when I wake up, because I remember that I’m me and my life is incredible,” Catherine tells us, in a moment of meta-commentary seemingly designed to push any Linton-shaming buttons. There are many, many more to come.
The plot is set in motion with the arrival of Tyler (Ed Westwick, Gossip Girl), a hunky young man who answers Catherine’s ad for a room to rent. He turns out to be a petty criminal and con man, although not a very bright one, as indicated by his failing to notice when she slips a roofie into his drink. She then gropes him while he’s unconscious, forestalling any audience disapproval by looking directly into the camera and announcing, “Oh, shut up, PC police! No one wants to hear you bitch about it. It’s fucking hilarious.”
Well, no, it isn’t, as the two proceed to engage in a flirtatious cat and mouse game involving criminal activities ranging from car and jewelry theft (him) to murder and dismemberment (her). They eventually fall in love, although that doesn’t prevent Catherine from attempting to make him her next victim. Along the way, they engage in such seemingly endless debates as whether a piece of furniture is a couch or a sofa and the correct pronunciation of Van Gogh. It’s all accompanied by a series of montages scored to a procession of ’80s pop hits including “Maniac,” “I’m So Excited,” Take on Me” and “Hungry Like a Wolf.” During one of them, we’re treated to the sight of Westwick blissfully bumping and grinding while clad in a red silk robe.
Me You Madness is meta to the extreme, its characters frequently breaking the fourth wall by, among other things, arguing over breaking the fourth wall. Spying Catherine in yet another of a series of provocative, body-hugging outfits, Tyler comments, “Really, another costume change?” At another point, he exclaims, “Whoever wrote this is a fucking genius,” the sincere delivery of which serves as an ironic testament to Westwick’s acting abilities. When Catherine interrupts herself during a monologue to ask, “Can we have some fresh ideas please, Hollywood?” you’re practically invited to come up with sarcastic rejoinders.
In its tiresome attempts to send up its star’s image and not take itself too seriously, the film becomes exceedingly laborious. The lead performers don’t so much wink at the camera as leer at it and threaten to lick it all over, and we’re treated to so many lascivious shots of Linton’s toned, bared physique that one would accuse the filmmaker of sexual exploitation if it weren’t Linton herself. But then again, she never did know how to read a room.
Available on VOD
Production companies: Stormchaser Films
Distributor: STX Entertainment
Cast: Louise Linton, Ed Westwick, Shuya Chang, Jimmy Dinh, Tyler Barnes, Gwen Van Dam, Joel Michaely
Director/screenwriter: Louise Linton
Producers: Louise Linton, Kristen Ruhlin
Executive producers: Christopher Rush Harrington, Jijo Reed, Christelle Zeinoun
Directors of photography: Ray Peschke, Boa Simon
Production designers: Travis Zariwny, Alura Johnson
Editor: Samuel Means
Composer: Jason Altshuler
Costume designer: Camille Jumelle
Casting: Scott David
Rated R, 97 min.
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