Blood from a Stone

Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant was an overwrought but distinctively stylish variation on an overworked cinematic genre -- the corrupt cop movie. His latest release, The Addiction, takes an unconventional bite into an even more played-out category: the vampire movie (or, to be more specific, the unhappy-vampire movie).

After being accosted in an alley and bitten, pallid philosophy student Kathleen (Lili Taylor) doesn't realize she's been initiated into the shadow world of the undead. She assumes she's just been attacked by a twisted human. But Kathleen figures out her predicament soon enough; unfortunately the same cannot be said for Ferrara and his screenwriter Nicholas St. John. They put idiotic, quasi-philosophical words into Kathleen's mouth as often as they do blood. As Kathleen prowls the streets of New York City -- which Ferrara, whose visual flair is undeniable, imbues with menace and portent by shooting in washed-out black-and-white -- her hunger becomes insatiable. She takes to drawing blood from victims with a syringe and shooting it up like heroin, thus crystallizing Ferrara's simplistic conceit -- vampirism as addiction.

Put simply, it's a dumb movie. Make that a dumb vampire movie. And I haven't even mentioned the attempts to draw parallels between the My Lai massacre and vampirism. But The Addiction has an interesting look, and Lili Taylor is convincing despite her artificial dialogue. It fits Ferrara's pattern: Harvey Keitel's gutsy, no-holds-barred turn rescued Bad Lieutenant. Solid work from Christopher Walken, Laurence Fishburne, Wesley Snipes, David Caruso, and Steve Buscemi made it possible to roll with the completely ludicrous plot of King of New York. And now Lili Taylor injects life into The Addiction. Once again first-rate acting bails out a flashy but fatuous Abel Ferrara film.

 
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