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SXSW Review: Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle

March 17, 2009

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I had heard one thing about this film when planning to see it – it’s weird. Seeing as I usually fall for weird, I decided to watch. However, while the film may have a dark comedic plot, the “weirdness” for me was trite and secondary  despite some outstanding performances from Vince Vieluf and Marshall Allman.

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle premiered at Sundance and is playing SXSW this week. Director David Russo had previously screened and won an award at Sundance in 2003 for his short film “Pan With Us.”

What is great about the film is the allegorical style in which the film approaches how society treats those on the bottom rung. The janitors in the film are invisible, in fact Vieluf’s character even explains how important it is for them to be unseen to Allman’s character when he first takes on the job. We are introduced to Allman’s character Dory when cubicle living finally sends him over the edge and with a clever rage that we see but don’t hear he storms out of his old life.

Sean Nelson (My Effortless Brilliance) plays a bit cameo in the scene that serves as the catalyst for Dory’s departure and his take on his new life. Nelson is not credited at IMDB which is disconcerting. He has a small role but is quite amusing for the moment or two we get to spend with him.

Dory, after quitting his job is unable to find any other office work so he takes Nelson’s characters advice and gets a job with a cleaning crew filled with quirky characters. In their building is a research lab which often leads to strange discoveries after human subjects visit the bathroom.

The film begins for me half way through with too much dead space lining up who the people are and that they are being tricked into an experiment. The monotony of their lifestyle and the quirky ways in which they spice it up is presented in great length (in fact, this is where my greatest complaint is – we get what and who they are – the build up to the main plot is too lengthy).

There is a trick you learn in writing classes that can easily be applied to editing here – and that is to start in the action. Some films take this to an extreme and start too far along and slowly unravel the backstory. Immaculate Conception does not. It starts 30 minutes too early and then the true story never quite finds its stride until most audiences would have given up. But they should hold on because once it hits its stride, the movie is actually quite fantastic.

Russo definitely has a creative vision with rich imagery that brings this unique story to life. In one of the early hallucinatory scenes when the janitors are hanging out on the rooftop, there is an over the top fiery image surrounding Tania Raymonde’s character that is stunning, but the more subtle and interesting image in the scene is the slight wisps of smoke that slip out of the actor’s mouths upon exhaling. It is simple and yet brings us along in their extrasensory ride.

Natassha Lyone also stars and plays a conniving researcher. Russell Hodginkson also is worth noting in his role of Bergman.

SXSW SCREENINGS:
Thursday March 19th, 4:00 PM – Alamo Ritz 1
Saturday March 21st, 11:00 AM – Alamo Lamar 3

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