Marketing itself, fairly aptly as it turns
out, as Ď5 Tales of Madnessí, Burning Palms explores the (sexual)
lives and (sexual) mores of a bunch of LA twenty- and thirty-somethings
through five frequently risque and highly unpredictable vignettes.
Employing the vibrant comic book
sensibility that has worked so ably on Kick Ass and its ilk, the
film boasts a strong cast, including Avatarís Zoe Saldana,
Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch), the comely but oft-overlooked Lake
Bell (What Happens in Vegas), former Bond girl Rosamund Pike and
the always excellent Nick Stahl (Terminator 3, HBOís Carnivale).
Itís the directorial debut for Christopher Langdon, heretofore best
known for penning the 2007 Shia LaBouef vehicle Distrubia, and
though has received mostly lukewarm reviews in the States struck this
humble reviewer as a sassy if not always entirely succersful sendup of
21st century societal mores.
Incest, rape and murder (not to mention
reluctant female-male digital penetration on the part of Jamie Chungís
character) are amongst the filmís weightier preoccupations, and though
Langdon occasionally bites off more than he can chew with regards to his
wilfully taboo subject matter each topic is nonetheless dealt with in a
thoughtful and reasoned way. Or at least played for laughs and/or
pathos, which is almost as good.
It ainít perfect by any stretch, but
Burning Palms is an ambitious and entertaining outing that didnít
quite deserve the critical drubbing it was dealt upon its North American
release. The performances are excellent and the ensemble cast
universally do their darndest to lend an air of humanity and levity to
proceedings, which though frequently off-colour could never be accused
of being dull.