The Tulse Luper Suitcases Part
III: From Sark To Finish (2004)
Starring: JJ Field, Roger Rees, Renata Litvinova
Director: Peter Greenaway
Plot: Centered on the contents of 92 packed suitcases, the life and times of an eccentric, literate wanderer and international adventurer are retold during an arts exhibition.
Review: Meant to be part of a huge multi-media endeavor including TV series, DVD sets, books, and more,
The Tulse Luper Suitcases series is a colossal creative endeavor. If this third installment is any indication, Greenaway has enough material to detail this series for a long time - he just might not have an audience for it. This is an Art film with a capital "A", full of gorgeous
cinematography, brilliant colors, exquisite presentation and an esoteric need for style over sense. The narrative, as such, is broken down into distinct short stories, and even these are broken down further. It's also a multi-media buffet providing complete information overload, from bits and pieces of
scripts appearing on screen, to impromptu characters (with appropriate tag lines) giving their two cents in, and references to other films. For those attentive enough, there's a huge amount of interconnection between stories with minor details, numbers, objects, themes and more reappearing in the most unexpected places. With such an emphasis on making it look surreal and theatrical to the extreme, the feeling of artificiality is doubly pervasive. This might be exactly what Greenaway is going for, as if saying that the whole movie experience is completely fake. Even the hero, an
unbelievable mix of adventure / journalist / dilettante is an appropriately impossible creation. The cast is all decent, but they're really secondary to the real focus which is the
daring-do of the script and technical ability of its director. It's all an excuse to be a showcase for Greenaway's new focus, and he does mesmerize with his prowess on film. Gone is the attempt at any sort of story or engaging theme or engaging characters that filled his prior films such as
Drowning By Numbers or The
Pillow Book. This film is all about technology and the ability to master it. Oh, it's by far one of the most original, imaginative efforts in years, and there's a certain
exhilaration to be had for the first 45 minutes, but like any gimmick there's only so much we can take. It's all so packed that when the script finally takes its time with a new story (such as the tale behind Communist lines) it numbs the senses and eventually makes its audience fall asleep. Just as ambitious and imaginative as it is pretentious,
The Tulse Luper Suitcases is a fascinating experiment into a cinema for the digital age, and one that's worth experiencing for those who come into it aware.
Art / Entertainment: 7/10