Writer: Mickey Keating
Director: Mickey Keating
Stars: Lauren Ashley Carter, Brian Morvant, Sean Young
Much has been made of writer/director Mickey Keating’s latest offering, Darling, since it made its film festival debut last fall. I was lucky enough to see the film a couple of months ago, but I’ve spent far too much time trying to digest it, which, ultimately, isn’t good.
The plot of Darling is quite simple. A young girl (Lauren Ashley Carter) takes a job as the caretaker of an old New York City home. The home is owned by the eccentric Madame (Sean Young), who feels the need to divulge the fate of the previous caretaker, which is that she committed suicide by jumping off the top of the building. The girl explores the house and discovers a locked door Madame has told her should never be entered. After encountering a man (Brian Morvant) on the street, something is triggered in her and she begins to have flashbacks and nightmares, and quickly descends into madness.
Darling is a true “art-house” film. In fact, there may not be enough words to describe how visually striking this film really is. Shot entirely in black and white, save the odd “chapter” breaks, the production and costume design makes it somewhat difficult to determine the time period. These ambiguous touches are incredibly appealing. There is obvious homage to classic films such as Polanski’s Repulsion and Kubrick’s The Shining, as well as a myriad of recognizable horror tropes that don’t bring anything original to the table, but they’re handled in such a way, it never feels cheap.
While your eyes stay captivated for the short 79 minute run-time, there isn’t much else to hold onto. There is very little backstory for our poor caretaker and there is no clarification as to whether the snippets we do see are genuine flashbacks or her psychosis. Supernatural happenings are also eluded to, but never truly resolved, which begs the question, is it indeed madness or is her behavior brought on by other forces?
Lauren Ashley Carter (Jug Face), with her wide, expressive eyes and delicate features, is also perfection from a stylistic perspective, but, save a couple of sequences, has very little to do but stare into the camera. While her character is intriguing, it’s not developed enough or strong enough to make you care what happens to her.
Darling is the poster child for style over substance and may have worked better as a short or benefited from another 10 minutes of a more developed story and a stronger script.
Images: Glass Eye Pix