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Oct 4, 2013

A favorite film: "Choose Me" (dir. Alan Parker, 1984)

Not a lot of people know Choose Me, Alan Rudolph’s 1984 neon-noir ode to mistaken identity, lost love, regained love, mental illness, loneliness and emotional frailty. Well, that’s my take on it. It could be many different things to many different people, that is, if many different people were to see it. It's just not that kind of film. It's particular.

I saw it in 1984, and then I saw it again and again and again. It’s stylish and sleek, with a beautifully brittle Lesley Ann Warren clashing with frail and gravelly Genevieve Bujold over dangerously ambiguous Keith Carradine while nubile naïf Rae Dawn Chong recites bad poetry on the sidelines.

That’s the only way I know how to describe it, with a lot of adjectives, because the plot is so involved I can’t begin to detail it. The film itself I can describe: it’s a looker, and on top of that, it’s a looker you can feel.

The Teddy Pendergrass soundtrack gives what could have been a very icy character study its warmth and soul, and that provides a key to the film’s allure. It’s all “just enough.” Nothing beats you over the head. Ironic paintings on the wall are held in frame, long enough for you to take them in; the language in which people speak dances around what they mean to say, just like in old film noir.

“You have perfection about you,” Keith Carradine’s possibly insane Mickey says to Lesley Ann Warren’s definitely entranced Eve. Not “you’re perfect,” but “You have perfection about you.”

What could that mean? And who wouldn't want to hear it?

If only every character in the film were direct and honest -- about who they were, what they want and why they’re there --  maybe that would save them all a lot of trouble and bring them to the happy endings you want them to have.

But then there wouldn’t be a story, and that story wouldn’t be Choose Me.