This is Alan Moore’s first piece of writing designed specifically for the screen, but it is not for the faint hearted. Show Pieces touches on some seriously taboo areas ranging from asphyxiation to cannibalism. While it starts slow, focusing on the private life of a young news reporter, it gradually escalates into something far more sinister.
For a man most famous for his comic books, as well as films such as V for Vendetta, in which the visual aspects are so rewarding to experience, it is no surprise that Show Pieces is a feast for your eyes. A feast, that is, if you feel like chowing down on skimpy dancing outfits, demented circus freaks and neon lighting. It is not to everyone’s taste, for sure, but Moore’s gift for storytelling shines through in what proves to be an absorbing cinematic experience.
The film is really a set of five stories fused into one, spending most of its time focused on the drinking misogynist Jimmy (a fine performance from Darrel D’Silva). Director Mitch Jenkins sustains a real sense of unease and danger as Jimmy wanders his way through the red-lit hallways of one of the dodgiest bars you could imagine. It may be full of smiling burlesque dancers, but Moulin Rouge this is not. It is a sensual cesspool where you are held accountable for your sins and misdeeds, constantly being watched by a depressing maniac clown.
Speaking of which, Robert ‘Bobbles the Clown’ Hopley is easily the highlight of the whole film. His first lines detailing his broken down marriage are a near-perfect exercise in black comedy. When he isn’t frowning, he is participating in torture and making clown puns. To borrow a line from another famous jester, he is an agent of chaos. It is a monumental performance from Andrew Buckley.
In fact, it is almost too good. He steals the show to such an extent that you are at risk of missing the finer details. Firstly, the costume and set design is amazing, drawing you in to this world of decadence and erotica. The music, featuring Alan Moore’s original lyrics, is haunting and sombre. Moore himself makes a brief appearance in the film too, just before the film turns from being mildly unsettling to outright distressing (for Jimmy at least). The supporting cast, too, are all solid – if somewhat upstaged by Buckley.
Show Pieces is a darkly alternative trip into a world of sin and pleasure, which lingers in your mind long after the credits appear. It is rather confusing at times, but the visual appeal and the tension of the last chapter will keep you firmly in front of the screen...And away from clowns.
SHOW PIECES / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: MITCH JENKINS / SCREENPLAY: ALAN MOORE / STARRING: DARRELL D’SILVA, SIOBHAN HEWLETT, ROBERT GOODMAN, ANDREW BUCKLEY, KHANDIE KHISSES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (SHUDDER)
Expected Rating: 8/10