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BOOK OF REVELATION, THE (director/writer: Ana Kokkinos; screenwriter: from the novel by Rupert Thomson/Andrew Bovell; cinematographer: Tristan Milani; editor: Martin Connor; music: Cezary Skubiszewski; cast: Tom Long (Daniel), Anna Torv (Bridget), Greta Scacchi (Isabel), Colin Friels (Mark Olsen), Deborah Mailman (Julie), Zoe Coyle (Renate); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Barbara Gibbs; Lucky Gems; 2006-Australia)
“A controversial psychological drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A controversial psychological drama that’s difficult to not like and just as difficult to like for its upsetting revelations about rape which offers the rarely shown gender reversal of victim and captor; it also points out how difficult it’s to heal from such a brutal attack even for a man. The frank sexual tale about a man gang raped and made a sex slave while shackled with chains by three hooded women and who has difficulty recovering from the harrowing experience, is a provocative and original film that offers a challenge to our modern-day morality and concepts about sex. It’s directed with a hard-edge by Ana Kokkinos (“Head On”/”Only The Brave”), a graduate from Melbourne’s Monash University law school, and Ms. Kokkinos cowrites it with Andrew Bovell using sparse dialogue. It’s adapted from Rupert Thomson’s erotic thriller novel.

The sensitive and beautiful looking Daniel (Tom Long) is a renowned Melbourne ballet dancer in a company run by his mentor, the acclaimed choreographer, Isabel (Greta Scacchi). Daniel’s dancing partner and live-in lover for the past three years, Bridget (Anna Torv), sends him out for cigarettes before the night’s performance. While walking down a narrow alley enclosed by brick buildings in broad daylight, Daniel’s abducted and taken to a secret location where he’s chained up, injected with drugs, repeatedly raped and made to dance by three hooded women for 12 days. It soon becomes clear he wasn’t chosen at random, as the women know him and abducted him because they found him beautiful and wanted him to pleasure them. He’s suddenly freed, and returns dazed and traumatized with a parched-lip. Unable to confide to Bridget about his ordeal or tell the disbelieving police who only laugh at his story or receive any comfort from his dancing friends, Daniel leaves his girlfriend and the dance company and goes to a port city as a bartender to get away from it all. There he tries making love to every redhead he meets, to see if one of them could be the same tattooed redhead attacker who menaced him with her unwanted love. After sending Isabel a post card assuring her that he’s alright, she gets ex-hubby, Mark Olsen, an understanding cop attached to a special unit of sex crimes to track Daniel down. This brings Daniel back to a dying cancer-stricken Isabel, and he’s given another chance to dance again. On the subway, Daniel meets the Aboriginal girl Julie (Deborah Mailman), a college student studying economics, who is plain looking, chubby and dark skinned but sweet, has a radiant smile, and offers him a chance for salvation. It now becomes a question if the disoriented Daniel can put back together the shattered pieces to his life.

The film’s main problems are that everything is too restrained and too arty, and the over-the-top ending of Daniel going berserk as an attacker of a redhead in a nightclub restroom takes away from the film’s credibility it worked so hard to earn. But in its gorgeous visually dream-like presentation of the mysteries of dance and in the hero’s search for his inner soul in almost biblical ways, it has a certain rawness and power that overcomes all the film’s faults and gives it a memorable force. To its credit, it shows some daring and graphic scenes, but never stoops to porno exploitation–this is a classy pic and one that the right sort of viewer should find interesting.

Composer Cezary Skubiszewski offers a string-rich experimental score that complements the film’s pensive and mysterious mood.REVIEWED ON 6/7/2008 GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”