86 minutes| U.S.A.-France| 2010| Colour| D-Cinema

Having won the respect of the serious critics with his rites of passage drama Mysterious Skin, mischief-making director Gregg Araki now revisits the spiritedly scandalous terrain of his mid-’90s ‘teen-apocalypse’ trilogy, Totally F***ed Up, Doom Generation and Nowhere. It was John Waters who suggested Araki return to his roots, and the results play like an updated take on Waters’ own ’70s shockers, mixed with David Lynch weirdness, teen soap theatrics and a dash of vintage Roger Corman sci-fi. SoCal college students, when they’re not pairing off together, encounter kidnappings, strange interlopers in animal masks and a sinister conspiracy as the loopy storyline unfolds, underscored throughout by a sweet vein of romantic yearning. It’s a frisky diversion, all right, with few pretensions to anything else, but the cast (including bi-curious Thomas Dekker, cattily wise lesbian Haley Bennett, and Catherine Breillat star Roxane Mesquida) are delicious indeed, the Day-Glo production design eye-catching, and the perversity – polymorphous. Winner of the first-ever Queer Palm at Cannes! (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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