Rating: NNNNN*ERASERHEAD (David Lynch, 1977) slinks into the Royal as a subversive alternative to Billy Elliot, the mainstream crowd-pleaser playing.
*ERASERHEAD (David Lynch, 1977) slinks into the Royal as a subversive alternative to Billy Elliot, the mainstream crowd-pleaser playing at every other rep cinema this week. Both films feature a working-class father left alone to raise a child who’s not at all what he’d hoped for. But Eraserhead, the cult classic that usually functions as a mainstream crowd-disperser, takes a wildly imaginative route into far darker, and ultimately more truthful, emotional terrain. Jack Nance plays Henry Spencer, an introvert forced into marriage following the birth of his spastic girlfriend’s malformed baby. Lynch translates his own early marriage and traumatic experience raising a daughter with club feet into a mesmerizing study on premature parenthood and symbolic escape. The film is an even greater achievement when you know that Lynch, just 26 and broke at the time, somehow convinced friends (including Sissy Spacek) to spend four years and their own money helping him realize his hauntingly original vision. Billy Elliot has a dancing boy, pop-punk music and a solution to every problem. Eraserhead has a dancing game hen, creepy organ music and a magic radiator that tempts Henry with a deadly solution to his problems. It was also said to be Stanley Kubrick’s favourite film. NNNN (January 29-30, Royal) Kim Linekin