‘Slow Machine’ Review: What Do Paranoid Actresses Dream Of?

Simultaneously excessive stakes and low-key, “Slow Machine,” the enigmatic debut characteristic of Joe DeNardo and Paul Felten, who additionally wrote it, follows a Swedish actress named Stephanie (Stephanie Hayes). She turns into romantically concerned with Gerard (Scott Shepherd), an intelligence agent for the New York Police Department, and bunks with indie musicians upstate, together with Eleanor Friedberger (as herself). Along the way in which, Stephanie attends an A.A. assembly and grabs drinks with Chloë Sevigny (enjoying a prickly model of herself) — each occasions are barely interrupted by a doable bomb risk.

Difficult to explain and confounding to comply with, the movie is finest once you undergo the surreal nature of it; then, you’ll be open to witnessing one in every of this yr’s most mesmerizing films unfold. Films of such lo-fi aesthetics hardly ever really feel this main.

The mystically inclined French auteur Jacques Rivette explicitly influenced the administrators, however there are additionally paranoid, insomniac traces of Sara Driver’s “Sleepwalk” and Bette Gordon’s “Variety.” The taboo flirtations with authority and hazard are harking back to Jane Campion’s “In the Cut.” All are New York films, however DeNardo and Felten’s New York is sort of unimaginable to put. Vague places, together with using pointillistic 16-millimeter movie and actorly monologues, improve a dreamy, meta high quality at play.

Much of Gerard and Stephanie’s relationship is contained in a barely furnished condominium. When he takes her to a diner, she asks what borough they’re in (Queens, by the way in which). In the movie’s finest scene, Sevigny dives into an oration a few weird audition someplace she can’t place, realizing “the world had dissolved around us — not dissolved, died.” Watching “Slow Machine” has that type of unusual impact: It transports you deep right into a world that you simply’re determined to know.

Slow Machine
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 12 minutes. Watch via digital cinemas.