Altered States | Chicago Reader

Altered States

Rated R 102 minutes 2013

This Ken Russell film (1980) is just as much a camp joke as Lisztomania or Mahler, but this time nobody's laughing, perhaps because Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay provided the first recognizably realistic context for Russell's obsessions since Women in Love. Chayefsky, who had his name removed from the credits, may have thought it was about the agony and ecstasy of scientific investigation, but in Russell's hands it becomes another nutball Neoplatonic allegory, riddled with Catholic epiphanies. There isn't a lucid moment in it (and much of the dialogue is rendered unintelligible by Russell's subversive direction), but it has dash, style, and good looks, as well as the funniest curtain line since Some Like It Hot. With William Hurt, Blair Brown, and Bob Balaban.

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