“Revolting,” “repugnant,” “artistically inept” are words that barely scratch the surface of Louise Linton’s self-congratulatory, meta-referential dark comedy Me You Madness, a film so sick and repulsive that probably wouldn’t have been made if Linton wasn’t married to former Trump Secretary of the Treasury (and film producer) Steven Mnuchin. The self-congratulation begins when Linton presents herself as multi-millionaire Catherine Black, a business executive who also happens to be a murderous, cannibalistic psychopath. She decides to exact revenge on Tyler (Ed Westwick), a petty thief who arrives at Catherine’s house to steal her car. However, they quickly fall in love, which complicates Black’s “plan” to kill Tyler. The end result is an insufferably annoying movie that could’ve worked if written/directed by somebody else.
The reason I’m saying it could’ve worked is that the story is quasi-interesting enough: an unconventional romance movie in which a psychopath falls in love with a brainless petty thief can make for great comedy if done right. However, Linton has no understanding of the visual (and aural) language of cinema; her film is shot and staged like an obnoxious late 1990s/early 2000s music video, filled with “nostalgia tunes” and a barrage of “dynamic cuts” where every drumbeat of an 80s song is juxtaposed by a cut. However, that cut is never motivated by emotion contains no purpose. Walter Murch has said that emotion accounts for 50% of a great cut. If you don’t edit for emotion, your film will likely suck. Linton’s emotionless cuts permeate the entire film, as she is too busy crafting music-video sequences instead of focusing on the cinematic aspects of her lush sets. The film’s sets are filled with bright neon colors that make for significant exploitation of cinema’s visual medium, but its music-video aesthetic ruins the audience’s appreciation of Catherine’s house and an incredibly rich garage filled with prestige sports cars.
Linton uses neon sets and luxuriant costumes to make her cannibal dark-comedy as erotic as possible, in the vein of Julia Ducornau’s sensual Raw. Linton believes the scene where Black dances with parts of dead bodies is supposed to arouse the audience, but its music-video setting does the exact opposite. There’s no connection with the character from the audience’s part since Catherine is presented as a narcissistic psycho who only cares about herself, compared to Raw‘s presentation of Justine, from strict vegan to cannibal. This is why the sequence where Justine eats a finger for the first time feels like an erotic experience, not only for her as she experiences human flesh for the first time but also for the audience. None of Catherine’s progression feels earned since the audience isn’t attached to her character.
Linton’s project is also filled with endless meta-humor that, again, could’ve worked if it was written by someone who understood its subtle power. Linton’s definition of meta-humor is to rip-off previous films that “inspired” hers and directly say to the audience that she indeed knows that her film is a direct rip-off of American Psycho. Her probable excuse for the number of creative ineptitudes found in her film. The opening scene isn’t a rip-off of American Psycho; it textually (and aesthetically) plagiarises Mary Harron’s film just so she can make a joke on ripping it off. Oh, a chainsaw? Why not name the entire Texas Chainsaw franchise to “prove” that it’s an over-used trope in horror movies! If you want to be Deadpool (which Linton also references), you have to understand when and how to insert meta-humor. Since Linton doesn’t know how comedic timing works, all of her jokes fall flat, particularly the ones that incessantly repeat two words: “It’s a couch. Sofa. Couch. Sofa. I’m pretty sure it’s a couch. Sofa…”
This last joke that I’ve mentioned is the kind of dumb humor I revel in. Jim Hosking’s The Greasy Strangler exploited it perfectly with the “free drinks!” and “porto” scenes. Why? Because Hosking knew how to establish an odd, almost surreal atmosphere that perfectly completed its unnatural comedic timing and genius performances. Linton’s film has no sense of timing nor contains any memorable performances. Her Scottish accent slips multiple times, and Westwick’s male lead is flat and devoid of charm. There’s never a moment where the audience “clicks” as much as the couple “clicks” since Westwick and Linton have zero on-screen chemistry together.
This is why Me You Madness fails: the script has no comprehension of comedic timing, Linton doesn’t know how to differentiate cinema vs. music video, and its lead performances are appallingly terrible. It’s also devoid of any creativity and charm, making the film’s most nauseating sequences feel inherently exploitative instead of anything else. Maybe it’s best for Louise Linton and Steven Mnuchin to never return to Hollywood after what they’ve fueled and contributed to for the past four years.
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