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Film Review: 8mm

Coming from Andrew Walker (writer of serial- killer fest 'Seven') and director Joel Schumacher (Flatliners, the Lost Boys) this was a film that was always going to be dark and disturbing. And yes, when the subject matter is snuff movies and hardcore pornography, you just know this isn't going to be everybody's first choice when they take meander down to their local cinema.

Nicolas Cage, one of Hollywood's "it" men at the moment, took this role after other actors apparently wouldn't even consider it. He plays a private investigator, Tom Welles, a happily married man with a young daughter, who spends his time carrying out various surveillances for high profile clients. Because of his professionalism and discreet reputation, he is recommended for a job which will inevitably change his life, and that of his family.

He is called to the house of a wealthy widow, who after her husband's death discovers a reel of 8mm film, an apparent snuff movie, in which a teenager appears to be tortured and murdered. She hires Cage to discover if the movie is real or not.

And so begins his descent into an L.A. underworld of pornography and violence. Joaquin Phoenix, a worker in a porn shop who knows the underworld scene, helps him along the way by providing information and contacts.

8mm begins promisingly. The dark atmosphere is maintained throughout the film, largely due to the bleak sets and night-time shoots. However it is overly long. At one stage I thought the film was over, only to realise that Cage had some (more) unfinished business to take care of.

Cage's performance is strong and you cannot help but have sympathy for him as he is dragged deeper and deeper into a world he despises. The character of Phoenix is excellent, but then again he does get all the best lines and is the sole provider of any light-heartedness in this otherwise bleak film. Be warned; 8mm is not for everybody.

THE VERDICT? Very dark and bleak. However if you don't mind the subject matter, it is worth seeing although it is overly long.

Deborah Condon


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