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BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW – The Review

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BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW is a feast for the ears and the eyes. It is a science-fiction film that wears its inspirations on its sleeve, but at the same time it is quite unlike anything that you’ve likely seen before. The fact that this is a first-time feature from director Panos Cosmatos is nothing short of stunning. Veteran directors do not often create films with such a self-assured sense of style and control. Of course, it can be argued that a lot of directors eschew those trappings in order to appeal to the most broad audience possible, the lowest common denominator, if you will. Cosmatos doesn’t have that kind of aspiration. His is a singular vision. It may not be everyone’s fancy, but for those of you who enjoy challenging cinema, BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW is full of rewards.

The film takes place in the year 1983 and much of the action is confined to the Arboria Institute, a scientific research facility that looks more like a Kubrick-inspired nightmare than a proper learning environment. The narrative deals with a young female patient with budding telekinetic abilities and the interactions with her unhinged and supremely creepy doctor, who may be something of a telepath  himself. Their frequent tête-à-têtes hint at something disturbingly sexual and obsessive, and the reasons for this are explored in a flashback that is itself a highly stylized piece of cinema, nearly its own mini-movie, and openly inspired by E. Elias Merhige’s BEGOTTEN.

The two leads are played by Michael Rogers and Eva Allan. They are both effective in their roles, with Allen as the nearly mute patient and Rogers as her malevolent doctor. Rogers has the meatier role, as villains often do, and he obviously is having a blast with the character.

Special mention needs to go to sound, particularly the phenomenal score, and to cinematography. There are marriages of music and image that will linger in your mind for days, the kinds of sights you know you will want to see again. I expect Jeremy Schmidt to be much sought after for his musical stylings, channeling something that can only be described as the love child of Vangelis and John Carpenter. Likewise, the cinematography of Norm Li is nothing short of stunning. His intense and precise lighting style reminds me of another recent genre film, AMER. If you’re familiar with that movie then you know to expect in terms of quality visuals. There isn’t a wasted frame in the entire film.

BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW is being given a limited-release by Magnet. Do yourself a favor a try to see this on the big screen. Your mind will thank you after it’s done putting itself back together.

On Friday, July 6th, The Hi-Pointe Theatre and Late Nite Grindhouse are handling the St. Louis premiere. Admission is $6 and the show starts at 11:30PM.

Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Born in Illinois. Living in California. I contribute to this site, as well as Campus Circle.

2 Comments

  1. Christopher Lee Melkus

    June 23, 2012 at 5:24 am

    Comparisons to AMER = HIGH EXPECTATIONS

  2. Nick

    June 24, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Christopher, I’d wager that if you enjoyed AMER then you will welcome BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW with open arms.

    FYI, here’s a review of AMER that I wrote for an L.A. publication: http://www.campuscircle.com/review.cfm?r=11968

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