Before We Vanish by Lawrence Garcia Film

The Intestine | Lev Lewis

April 5, 2018

It’s often a fool’s errand to go searching for themes in a given festival program, but if there’s a common thread running through Future // Present, it’s the concept of home. The IntestineLev Lewis’s slippery, fascinating feature debut—centers on Maya (Melanie Scheiner), a young woman working a dead-end job while also looking after her junkie mother. After finding herself alone in an enormous, tastefully decorated suburban mansion the day after an (elided) one-night stand, she decides to luxuriate in the residence, even passing herself off as the owner to a new neighbor. It’s a clever hook, complemented nicely by Scheiner’s beguilingly opaque performance. The Intestine is also (to Lewis’s credit) fairly difficult to categorize in the early going. (Cronenbergian body horror? Egoyanesque grief ritual?) Distilling or classifying the plot isn’t entirely useful anyway, especially since it’s Lewis’s formal prowess and confident narrative gamesmanship that compels most here.

Employing an insistent, effective score and slow, sinuous camera movements, The Intestine communicates a sharp sense of dislocation; it’s a portrait of a woman confused and adrift, her already-tenuous situation shaken by her mother’s abrupt death (likely by heroin overdose) and the events at the mansion. There are a lot of stray details—often conveyed in distinctive low-light compositions—that are left (refreshingly) unexplained, but that still work on an intuitive level. “I want a home,” says Maya late in the film—and even if Lewis’s response to this becomes fairly predictable, particularly in The Intestine’s latter half, his confident direction is more than enough to compensate.

Published as part of Vancouver International Film Festival 2016 – Future // Present.