Seance | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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A psychic and her husband, who works as a sound-effects technician, unwittingly get involved in a kidnap case, and she tries to use her powers to locate the victim. This loose remake of the psychological study Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) is less straightforward and more metaphysical than the original, raising just as many questions as it answers about the supernatural, free will, unintended consequences, and guilt. Writer-director Kiyoshi Kurosawa twists the conventions of the supernatural-mystery genre in unexpected ways. He also uses an elaborately layered sound track and a muted, elegant visual style--which charges spaces with a creepy ambience while disclosing incriminating detail, in scenes that owe a debt to Hitchcock and Kubrick--to implicate the audience in what the couple hear and see and in their sense of frustration and dread. There's a lot of bravado and perversity and too much philosophical musing in Kurosawa's chronicle of a guilt trip, but his vision of how ambition and boredom can warp ordinary people is truly frightening (2000). With Koji Yakusho and Jun Fubuki. 97 min. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Friday, August 24, 6:00, and Thursday, August 30, 8:30, 312-846-2800.

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