Archangel | Chicago Reader

Archangel

Guy Maddin, responsible for Tales From the Gimli Hospital, comes up with an even stranger black-and-white feature (1990), made on a heftier budget, that involves amnesiac victims of mustard gas during World War I and the Russian Revolution. The hero, a Canadian soldier (Kyle McCulloch), mistakes a nurse (Kathy Marykuca) for his dead love; she's married to a Belgian aviator (Ari Cohen) who can't remember he's married, and she gets so confused that she winds up mistaking the Canadian for the Belgian. There are other complications, but this film often appears to be about nothing at all—except perhaps Maddin's obvious love for late silent and early talkie studio productions with kitschy pictorial effects, as well as offbeat surrealist conceits, such as a hailstorm of bunny rabbits falling into trenches. What comes across is a fascinating fetishist delirium, where memories of remote war movies get recycled into something that's alternately creepy and beautiful.

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