Friendship's Death | Chicago Reader

Friendship's Death

Peter Wollen's adaptation of his own science fiction story (included in his collection Readings and Writings) is mainly an exercise for two talking heads; this is Wollen's first solo feature (after previous colloborations with Laura Mulvey), and is set in Jordan during the “Black September” of 1970. A British journalist (Bill Paterson) encounters a female extraterrestrial android named Friendship (Tilda Swinton) after she has been picked up by a PLO patrol, and the lengthy dialogues between them concentrate largely on her sympathy for and identification with the Palestinians; an epilogue focuses on a crystal she leaves behind containing “thought images,” which the journalist's daughter is able to play back in London many years later. Although some of the ideas expressed in this talky film are interesting and provocative, writer-director Wollen remains a rather clunky and unimaginative filmmaker, and not even Friendship's crystal message escapes the plodding banality of his mise en scene. The results are an intriguing appendage to a striking story (Wollen changes the sex of Friendship from male to female in the film), but are neither much of an improvement on the original nor much of a film (1987).

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