Set in and behind the scenes of Brooklyn cabaret and burlesque club The Bizarre, after which the film is named, it’s a dichotomy of the clubs splendour, with music and tits galore, and the upstairs everyday realism of what it is to make ones’ way in a new city. Teetering on the edge of adulthood, hormones popping, everything is new and overwhelming and anything is possible.
It has all the trademarks of a coming-of-age tale, as this fresh-faced youth arrives in New York, after escaping some unknown past in France. He is soon adopted by a couple of trendy Brooklynites who run the club below, who take him under their bohemian bosoms and pamper him like some kind of new toy. They introduce him to new experiences and people, in particular to Luka (Adrian James) with whom he forms a close, but ambiguous friendship.
There is a bit of disconnection between the narrative of Maurice and the happenings in The Bizarre downstairs. There are vignettes throughout, with racy acts and presentations of the weird and the wonderful, but they never really merge paths or have much impact on the journey of the naive protagonist. There is a lack of friction, perhaps complicity, between the extravagance of the club and the angst of normal life upstairs.
This film is at its best when the unsaid remains unsaid. It begs more ambiguity and tension as Maurice falls and figures his way through his explorations of Brooklyn and of himself: there are some slightly clunky scenes of conversation where some “real life” exposition is crowbarred in. The film opens with some moody voice-overs, which work well but could have been utilised more. Same with the early reference to the “director” who “wanted me to speak in English”: an interesting idea of deconstruction, but one that’s not explored again.
Bizarre has some aesthetically vivid moments, mixing beauty and the grotesque with nightmarish results, and with some quirky, humorous twists and turns. With a little more abstraction, a bit more grit and more of a celebration of Brooklyn’s burlesque nightlife, this film would be closer to living up to its name.
Bizarre does not yet have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Bizarre here: