(director: Yvonne Rainer; screenwriters: Jon Else/Wolfgang Senn/Michael Steinke/Shinkichi Tajiri /Carl Teitelbaum; editor: Yvonne Rainer; cast: Annette Michelson, Vito Acconci, Cynthia Beatt; Runtime: 125; MPAA Rating: NR; Zeitgeist Films; 1980-USA/UK/West Germany-in English)

“Engaging surrealistic drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

American artist expat Yvonne Rainer (“Kristina Talking Pictures”/”Privilege”/”The Man Who Envied Women“), living in Berlin and a John Cage enthusiast for his revolutionary compositions, helms this engaging surrealistic drama. It’s the already noted expat modern dancer and choreographer’s fourth and possibly best film. It severely questions psychiatric treatment and the effectiveness of radical politics.

While the fifty-something Annette Michelson is on her Freudian shrink’s couch being analyzed, she is caught both reminiscing and falling asleep. Through flashbacks and stream-of-consciousness images with a voice-over, a strange mixture of hallucinations unfold such as on German terrorism, alienation and sexual encounters. The therapist is played alternately by a man, woman, and nine year old boy. There are eerie tracking shots of Stonehenge, revolutionary Russia and the Berlin Wall in 1971.

The experimental film-maker offers space for political and psychological introspection, lets us listen to rants by various revolutionaries and allows us the luxury of comparing societies from both 19th century Russian and contemporary German to understand how each was so violent. Things turn burlesque when at one point, the patient addresses the boy-analyst and compares procreation to the internal combustion engine.