Friday, 8 October 2010

Perfect Creature

A nifty little New Zealand movie set in a steampunk universe of dirigibles and post-victorian technology & fashion starring Saffron Burrows and Dougray Scott.

The plot revolves around a renegade Brother - one of the vampiric spiritual leaders of the world - whose experiments with genetic engineering (the source of the vampirism) have driven him to murderous psychosis. Leading Brother Silus is charged by the church to track and capture the renegade Edgar before his actions become known. Drawn into this are Saffron Burrow's haggard and downbeat police investigator Lilly Squires and her crew.

Plot wise there's nothing particularly new here but it uses what it has with aplomb. The sets and costumes are beautifully natural and the movie has a nicely oneiric quality that suits the tone of the script and the setting.

Scott spends the entire film with the air of a man slightly uncomfortable with his lot in life, as though unsure if his privileged position has been truly earned. His attitude is originally interpreted as aloofness and relative coldness by the police officers he encounters before they come to see the truth behind the pose. Burrows is the stand-out feature of the movie. Her portrayal of the bereaved and lonely police officer has a delightfully shabby but feistily righteous quality that's an absolute joy to watch.

The technology of the movie reminded me strongly of Terry Gilliam's Brazil with it's wrongly out-moded character. The television are small, circular and black & white, newspapers are large, cumbersome and crudely printed and dirigibles criss cross the sky. The city is a place of market stalls and alleyways. The city streets are filthy and crawling with people and the houses are small, drab and barely functional.

As I said there's nothing in this that'll set the world aflame but as steampunk movies go this is one of the best. It manages to capture the squalor of a neo-victorian realm without sacrificing reality and cohesion to 'Blimey Guv'nor' tweeness. Even with a fairly well established dislike of vampires I thoroughly enjoyed Perfect Creature. I'd have loved to see a sequel somewhere along the line but apparently that's currently been ruled out which is a shame.