Raising Cain | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The whipping boy of American cinema misbehaves again. It's hard to make much sense out of Brian De Palma's discombobulated thriller, about a demented child psychologist (John Lithgow) who snatches up kiddies for home study and communes with his evil twin (Lithgow again) and maybe-less-than dad (Lithgow in Bruno Bettelheim drag) as his domestic life comes apart (his wife is having an affair). But then basic sense--or motivational subtlety, or narrative coherence--has never been De Palma's forte. What he does do well though--create vivid, personal images out of the flotsam of film history--he's never done better than here: every caressing, disconnected shot lives a dream life of its own. David Lynch has a lot to answer for in DePalma's liberation from narrative, but I'd suggest that Raul Ruiz and Calderon (the Life Is a Dream twins of high cult) have found a gutter equal. With Lolita Davidovich, Steven Bauer, Frances Sternhagen (a cruel, dotty parody of Susan Sontag), and hommages to Hitchcock (natch), Pauline Kael, and De Palma's own Dressed to Kill. (Burnham Plaza, Chestnut Station, Biograph, Plaza, GolfGlen, Bricktown Square, Ford City)

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