Richard Bailey's A SHIP OF HUMAN SKIN is going to split audiences. You are either going to love this film or you are going to shut it off after five minutes. That is not to be taken as a bad thing, rather it is simply the result that Bailey's decidedly artistic style is not going to play well with anyone looking for a film that pays by Hollywood's established way of doing things.
I'm going to be upfront and say that this film challenged me. I put it on and I wasn't certain what I was seeing at first. Art film collides with a documentary style. A TV interview appears in the middle. There is a feel of docudrama. The film seems to shift genres. I wasn't certain what I was seeing and my initial reaction was to walk away.
And then something happened, my preconceived notions started to fall away. I started to lean into the film. I wanted to know what was going to happen and how Bailey was going to get me there. While I wasn't certain of this story of two young women and a murder, I was falling in love with the filmmaking and how it was making me feel. As someone who wants a film to engage me I was truly engaging with a film that was challenging me on all sorts of levels. This is a film that will challenge you.
I don't know how to critique this film. It's not tat I don't want to say if it's good or bad, rather it is a matter of simply not being able to discuss it in terms of any other film. A SHIP OF HUMAN SKIN is not like anything you've seen before, or I've seen before and that limits what I can say.
What I am comfortable saying is that is you want a film that is exactly like every other Hollywood narrative stay away. This film isn't for you. On the other hand if you want a one of kind, perhaps slightly off kilter work of art that you may or may not like, but which is going to grab you by the lapels and drag you t the finish a hundred minutes in the future this film is for you.
Or in other words this is exactly the sort of film Unseen Films was set up to highlight.
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