Dazzle -- Film Review

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NEW YORK -- The Tribeca Film Festival's guide describes filmmaker Cyrus Frisch as the "enfant terrible" of Dutch cinema. Judging by his latest effort, the misleadingly titled "Dazzle," they're half right.

This misbegotten experimental feature depicts several lengthy telephone conversations between a troubled young woman living in Amsterdam (Georgina Verbaan) and an older doctor (the voice of Rutger Hauer, never actually seen onscreen) in Buenos Aires.

For much of the time as the two engage in their rather aimless dialogues, the screen is simply black. At other times, the filmmaker provides grainy, unfocused images of views from the woman's apartment window, including a homeless man masturbating on the sidewalk and various figures walking on the streets below. These are often presented refracted from mirrors, windows, etc.

Sometimes the visuals directly correspond to the dialogue, like when the woman describes the strange behavior of a mouse she found nearly drowned in her coffeepot. When she sets it free on the sidewalk, it makes a suicidal leap into the adjoining canal.

The endless talkathon is not without its interesting moments, like when the woman provides an erotic account of an amorous encounter with her lover's best friend.

A connection of sorts between the two main characters is eventually hinted at, as well as some drama when one of them makes a suicide attempt.

But it's not enough to offset the oppressive tedium and pretentiousness of the proceedings. Verbaan, not seen onscreen until a half-hour in, has a strong presence, and Hauer, who also produced, has the sort of insinuating voice that easily gets in your head. But for all their efforts, "Dazzle" is a trial.      

Sales Info: Stichting Filmkracht
Production: Nederlands Fonds voor de Film
Cast: Georgina Verbaan, Rutger Hauer.
Director/screenwriter/director of photography/editor: Cyrus Frisch.
Producers: Cyrus Frisch, Rutger Hauer.
No MPAA rating, 90 minutes.