Monday, June 16, 2014

"The Letter": a playwright deals with her own layered reality in life


My own fiction work is layered, between desires, as documented in background fiction by one of the major characters on stage (me), and then the reality level of the particular work.  But that prediction didn’t help me make much sense of “The Letter”, by Jay Anania.

Martine (Winona Ryder), a playwright, is rehearsing her masterpiece with actors Raymond (Josh Hamilton) and Tyone (James Franco) among others.  But she slips into dreams or fantasies, where she imagines intimacy that she wants with the actors, and then is disturbed by reports of other accidents, like a car wreck.  She begins to suspect she can’t tell apart her own reality, her dreams, and the text of her play (where she wants to name the characters after the actors anyway).

It’s a bit of a spoiler, but at the end, a psychiatrist tells her she has been poisoned slowly with some bizarre alkaloid from Columbia, something that acts as a truth serum.  The motive for her being targeted is a bit of a mystery, so I can’t say that this meta-movie works, even if the idea of making it is interesting.
The music score includes a famous slow Bach Prelude in C with cello and piano.


 The official site (Japan) is here.  Lionsgate offers the DVD but uses its horror movie intro rather than the new Wagnerian introduction.

The title of the film comes from an idea that Martine has for writing letters for the dead.  When we are gone, we can still read communications from the living about what is going on if the messages are formatted properly.

Wikipedia gives an account of Ryder's disturbing 2001 arrest, here

The film was shot in Queens, NYC.   

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