MOVIE REVIEW: THE MAN IN THE ORANGE JACKET (M. O. Zh.) / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: AIK KARAPETIAN / SCREENPLAY: AIK KARAPETIAN / STARRING: MAXIM LAZAREV, ANTA AIZUPE, ARIS ROZENTALS / RELEASE DATE: TBC
In terms of doing what it says on the tin, The Man in the Orange Jacket certainly offers at least one human male in the rather fetching attire of the title. In terms of putting Latvia on the map as a new home of cinematic horror, this is unfortunately not the film for that job.
When a wealthy industrialist leaves (in his own words) ‘some hundred families penniless’ by selling off one of his harbours, one former worker refuses to be laid off without a fight. Within the first fifteen minutes of this very short film, the titular man in the orange jacket has broken in to the aging capitalist’s house, engaged in a quick and brutal bit of stalk and slash and set himself up as the new owner of the luxury mansion. However, after disposing of the bodies of the old man and his much younger wife, our brightly coloured revolutionary slasher is haunted by paranoia as he attempts to enjoy the comforts of his newfound prosperity.
While The Man in the Orange Jacket starts out bleak and chilly, all autumnal colours and moody compositions, it soon descends into doppelganger daftness. Divided into four chapters, its pace is often glacial even though the film only runs to 71 minutes. It starts out promisingly, wasting no time in getting to some thrills in the pre-credits sequence, but it then settles in to watch the decomposition of its anti-hero’s mental state as he lounges around the doomed and gloomy mansion, watching television, eating fancy cuisine and ordering in a pair of prostitutes for company.
In its study of isolation and madness, it recalls The Shining at times, particularly when director Karapetian’s camera glides around the huge house with nothing but silence on the soundtrack. With little dialogue and only brief bursts of sudden violence, there is not a lot in the way of character development or action. Reality and fantasy collide, as the man in the orange jacket gets more comfortable in the suits, the seats, the car, and the swimming pool of the rich man from whom he has stolen it. His violent fantasies play out to opera and his nightmares become more dark and out of focus as his orange jacketed doppelganger stops watching from afar and starts to lurk ever closer to the mansion.
The economic context of all this is obvious. The sight of its working class anti-hero, hat pulled down over his face and orange jacket making him light up a like a dreaded beacon, is as terrifyingly iconic as Switchblade Romance’s similarly attired slasher. However, once he has dispatched his bourgeois foes, the menacing mood is tainted and impossible to sustain even for the short running time.
Technically, The Man in the Orange Jacket is an impressive debut from director Aik Karapetian. Story wise, it’s a shame there isn’t much more going on than that very literal title.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10