Kelly+Victor (18)

Directed by Kieran Evans
Starring: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Julian Morris
UK/Ireland 2013
FACT, Liverpool
20th September - 25th September 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Blinded By The Light

For Bluecoat Film Society alumni this film will bring memories of Oshima's 1976, Ai No Corrida (Empire of the Senses), flooding back. This though is not the erotic art-house world of remote Japan, but rather the seedy underbelly of present day Liverpool. There is the odd excursion to leafier pastures, but the dark and macabre scenario is barely lightened by these diversions.

Director Evans's take on the extremes of sexual convention and desire has then a lot to live up to. Kelly Campbell-Hughes) and Victor (Morris), the ill-starred leads pull it off, in a visceral portrayal of teenage needs trying to escape the stifling existence fate has doled out.

She is running from a fraught relationship with a recently released jailbird. Victor exists on the edge of society, squatting in a rust bucket, on the docks, where he undertakes the Sisyphean task of re-arranging huge piles of scrap metal.

After meeting in a club they get their kit off later in her drab flat. After snorting some 'meow-meow' they are bang at it when Kelly decides to throttle Victor to help prolong his performance. They are then seen out in public, meeting under Eros in Sefton Park, perusing Segantini's 'The Punishment Of Lust' in the Walker Art Gallery and the manacled slaves under Nelson's statue in Exchange Flags; all plot enhancers.

As circumstances up the ante - drug pushing by his increasingly threatening mates and the heavy come on by her ex - so the sex becomes more extreme. He craves more and she leaves her calling card on his back to tortuous effect, as his screams are drowned out by the soundtrack. After this they fall apart until a chance encounter.

Can they make a fresh start of it?

Cleverly put together, the film shows that extreme sexual proclivity is to be found everywhere. Kelly's friend is an S&M domintrix by day; a normal mum by night. The most thuggish of Victor's mates is a full blown misogynist and even a straight-laced banker revels in his dungeon. All the acting is believable, as is the screenplay, but the leads' Scouse accents sometimes fail them. This dystopian world captures the need to escape from the strait-jacket of mundanity through temporal release - but it is not an easy watch.

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