‘Jericho Mansions’ is an offbeat film featuring an eclectic
assortment of characters united only by proximity (they are all
residents of the titular apartment building). We’re introduced to
the paranoid land lady, the screeching drug addict, the bird-seed
gobbling seductress and numerous other crackpots. The protagonist
of the piece is Leonard Grey (James Caan) an introverted and
lacks the social skills to form meaningful relationships. Instead
of directly interacting with his fellow tenants, he scurries along
the periphery of their lives, gathering information by eavesdropping
and fishing through their trash. He is fiercely, perhaps
pathologically, protective of his caretaking responsibilities,
frequently criticising the tenants for engaging external tradesmen.
This is his turf.
Director Alberto Sciamma’s depiction of the building itself is one
of the more accomplished aspects of ‘Jericho Mansions.’ Externally,
he employs time-lapse photography to establish a supernatural
ambience. Internally, his camera glides between the walls,
revealing leaking pipes and sparking circuits. We are being offered
a glimpse at the secret lives of the tenants, lives that are in
immediate danger of calamity and collapse.
battles to maintain the status quo in the building even as he
suffers a series of beguiling wild-west flashbacks, becomes
entangled in a murder investigation and embarks on a brief but
ill-timed love affair with an enigmatic masseuse (Jennifer Tilly).
Such is his obsession with the building, Grey finds himself
virtually incapable of leaving Jericho Mansions despite the pain and
isolation that it has wrought upon him.
Unfortunately, despite the film’s brief running time, the end can’t
come quickly enough. The pacing is sluggish and the dialogue
disappointingly prosaic. Resist the urge to switch off however,
because the mystery at the heart of the film fascinates as much as
it frustrates and you want to miss the wacky but well-executed
extra features were submitted for review.