Nicolas Cage strays from the path of critical success to star in Robert Bierman’s Vampire’s Kiss
Vampire’s Kiss is part of Metro’s The Many Faces of Nicolas Cage series, which is exactly right—this is almost all one actor’s heady showcase but no full-bodied movie.
As Peter Loew, wracked, wrecked, and sure he’s been turned living-deadly by a slinky vampire (Jennifer Beals), Cage blows up the line between method acting and mannered acting.
Breaking down this ‘yuppie-going-loopy’ means acting up—he’s variously cavalier, affected (enunciating formal sentences in plummy tones), rude, or just plain unpredictable, with his offbeat-ness keeping us off guard. Even his hair—combed back, swooping, or verging on a wild poofiness—seems like a main character.
At his therapist’s office, he’ll steeple his hands in elaborate pensiveness only to, moments later, recite the alphabet with near-spasmodic gestures. He melts down while ripping up a jilted lover’s pink napkin scrawled with a warning, then trashes his room and smashes a mirror (the author’s contract that Peter’s obsessed with finding involves German magazine Der Spiegel—“spiegel” means “mirror”). Cage’s gesticulations include that trademark look-away while jutting out his arm and pointing at someone—Alva (Maria Conchita Alonso), his increasingly harassed secretary.
But the movie around this free falling mover-and-shaker, especially in its first half, has little get-up and go; this star-vehicle’s more like a furiously pedalled unicycle. A stairway sequence echoes the Nosferatu silhouette-scene, but that’s made woefully explicit when the scene’s shown on a TV.
The story’s a disturbingly dark comedy-drama grab-bag, its writer rummaging through both male delusion and loneliness; the transformation of casual seducer into crazed stalker; the horror of vicious white-male power (Alva’s Hispanic-American; that lover he jilted is black). The writer is Joseph Minion, whose screenplay for Scorsese’s superior After Hours (1985) also circles around cabs, nightclubs, sadomasochism, and vigilante justice as it follows a tormented male in New York City.
Not enough is developed here beyond its showreel of explosive incidents. But, Vampire’s Kiss does, indisputably, offer a front-row seat at a no-holds-barred ‘Cage’ match.
Sun., Jan. 7 (9:15 pm)
Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
Directed by Robert Bierman