launch of FACT; the city’s new multi-million arts cinema complex
and centre for digital technologies, begins with the release of
The Revenger’s Tragedy - the latest cinematic blast from Liverpool
filmmaker Alex Cox.
entirely on location in the city, Cox joins forces with screenwriter
Frank Cottrell Boyce (Welcome to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party
People), in updating Thomas Middleton’s 17th Century play text
- itself intended as a venemous rebuke of the ruling class.
Eccleston as Vindici and Eddie Izzard as Lussurioso
(Eccleston) returns to a Liverpool of the near-future having been
absent for ten years following the massacre of his bride and wedding
guests at their reception. Her crime? Having refused the lecherous
advances of The Duke (Derek Jacobi); ruler of the district and figurehead
of a more grasping, vice-riddled and corrupt family unit than you
could hope to encounter beyond Trisha’s TV listings.
by sister Castiza (Carla Henry, young Nathan’s pal Donna in Queer
As Folk), and brother Carlo (Andrew Schofield), the trio conspire
to assassinate their sworn enemy. But as Vindici inveigles himself
into the company of The Duke’s sons, themselves implicated in the
rape of the virtuous Imogen (a beatific Sophie Dahl) - wife of a
rival power broker, success may yet be possible… but at an impossibly
Henry as Castiza, the Knife Thrower
upon the screen in a camp, blistering, hi-energy freefall, Cox positions
himself somewhere between the proto-punk of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee
and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet. The Duke’s warring younger
sons squabble and scheme as would befit the current cast of Crossroads,
while comedian Eddie Izzard (here portraying the malevolent if deeply
stupid elder son Lussurioso), gives Eccleston a run for his money
as the film’s leading man.
Cox should choose to limit his audience, sticking to the original
archaic rhyme instead of a modernist approach along the lines of
Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You and O,
seems strange and self-defeating. Almost deliberately obtuse. That
said, if you can look beyond some of the more intrusive annoyances
(random Brookie cast cameos and the like), there’s plenty of meat
to chew on.