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Nowhere

Nowhere (1997) Movie Poster
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  •  USA / France  •    •  82m  •    •  Directed by: Gregg Araki.  •  Starring: James Duval, Rachel True, Nathan Bexton, Chiara Mastroianni, Debi Mazar, Kathleen Robertson, Joshua Gibran Mayweather, Jordan Ladd, Christina Applegate, Sarah Lassez, Guillermo Díaz, Jeremy Jordan, Alan Boyce..
       Nowhere chronicles a day (and night) in the lives of a group of 20 or more alienated Los Angeles teenagers in their personal lives of despair, alienation, failing relationships and more. Centering on one 18-year-old named Dark, an alienated UCLA film student; his bisexual African-American girlfriend Mel; her purple-haired, acid-tongued lesbian girlfriend Lucifer; Dark's homosexual classmate Montgomery; and Montgomery's poetess friend Alyssa. Other characters include Dark's friend, a queer industrial rock star named Cowboy; his drug-addicted lover and band mate Bart; the local drug dealer Handjob and his live-in S&M girls Kris and Kozzy; the metal-mouthed, wise-cracking intellectual Dingbat; her older brother Duckey, the bulimic Egg; Alyssa's self-destructive twin brother Shad and his girlfriend Lilith; Mel's little brother Zero and his blond girlfriend Zoe, plus a Teen Idol so famous that no one needs to utter his name, a trio of Atari gang members, nattering Valley girls, scary drag queens, a pragmatic party, and a mysterious alien from outer space that only Dark sees.

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Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
Image from: Nowhere (1997)
James Duval once again plays the role of a sexually confused teenager named Dark. He has a very outspoken mother who requests of him but one thing: to stop the self-abuse. Indeed, in the opening scene we find Dark in the shower ardently stroking his penis as he reimagines some of his sexual encounters with Mel, his bisexual girlfriend, and particularly a moment he shares in the locker room with Montgomery (played by Nathan Bexton).

Just like in Araki's Totally Fed Up (part of the Apocalypse Teenage Trilogy), the story revolves around a cast of troubled teenagers. This is a generation of youngsters that take the imperative of joy to the extreme, they live their lives as if the world is about to end, and everything they do is of the utmost intensity.

There is sheer perversity in Shad (played by Ryan Phillippe) and Lilith (Heather Graham), both devotees of bondage and sadomasochism. When Shad is all tied up and about to be dominated by Lilith, he adopts a particular position in the sexual structure: here the subject makes himself the instrument of the Other's jouissance. The pervert is the person in whom the structure of the drive is most clearly revealed, and also the person who carries the attempt to go beyond the pleasure principle to the limit "he who goes as far as he can along the path of jouissance".

Sadism motivates the Teen Idol's actions as he seduces a girl who is totally infatuated by his specular image (namely, the notoriety and fame derived of his TV appearances). As a sadist he locates himself as the object of the invocatory drive, not only brutally hitting the girl but also raping her.

The imperative of joy also takes its toll on the homosexual couple formed by Cowboy and Bart; Bart is a drug addict beyond recovery, despite all the efforts his boyfriend does to help him. Perhaps the only normal couple, albeit "in the making", would be formed by Dingbat (played by Christina Applegate) and Ducky (Scott Caan).

But everything is sort of in the making, as these college kids can't seem to make up their minds. For example, Dark confronts Mel as he is uneasy with her promiscuity (and bisexuality). "Sometimes I feel so old fashioned", he confesses. It would be fair to state that theirs is a case of sexual failure because the object of desire, insofar as it is incarnated, never accedes in turn to the Other sex. And this is a translation of Lacan's proposition "there is no such thing as sexual rapport".

Dark expresses a restrained concept of what is properly sexual. Thus it concerns the rapport to the Other sex, to the Other body as sexed, and specially as sexed differently - body to body, sexed body to sexed body. In so constricting the range of sexuality, in focusing on corporeity he demonstrates that sexuality is utterly undone or not constituted. At the time of sexual jouissance, the rapport one counts upon, the rapport that should be there takes the form of failure. That is why Dark grows more and more comfortable with Montgomery's presence; Dark's object of desire is shifting towards a sexed body that mirrors his own: a male body. Lacan's expression of "corporeal excerpt" serves to qualify what he calls the object a. It entails a debasement of the Other, having it demeaned from the status of Other as such to the rank of the object a of drive. And this is the path Lacan follows when he announces that there is no such thing as sexual rapport.

Every couple in the film is a living manifest of this sexual failure, unable to connect to the other, they live desperately and on the verge of destruction. It isn't surprising, then, to witness the suicides of two characters partly prompted by religious zealousness. Suicide here is also a successful attempt of the real to break into reality which coincides with the constant irruption of the alien, not only as a headline that proclaims that space aliens are kidnapping children but as a very 'real' manifestation of an alien monster that only Dark and Montgomery are able to see.

The alien serves as a metaphor of the uncanny double, originated as the mortifying aspect of narcissism when it is not limited by castration. Narcissism presupposes to mask death itself. Nevertheless, here the alien is responsible for the death of a few college girls, and once Montgomery disappears Dark fears the worse. When something of this object a (id est Montgomery) of the phantasm appears in the real, on top of the frame, disrupting it and therefore disrupting the 'scene' that so far has contained it, the effect that ensues is marked by angst. Such is the case of the alien monster who appears always between moments, between sequences, almost taunting Dark, on the fringes of reality and the real. Araki's masterful representation of the manner in which the phantasm is framed reveals the importance of what many viewers might consider random and capricious appearances.

When Montgomery shows up in Dark's room, stark naked, they start talking. Montgomery affirms "I got kidnapped by space aliens". It's not long before they decide to share the bed (yet another hint pointing out the sexual failure). Dark and Montgomery move through a difficult zone, they can't "pull it out", they're doomed to let go of the conceptual inveigling that Lacan has accomplished, and that always articulates jouissance with castration, that is a phallic function. When Montgomery experiences an abnormal seizure Dark asks him "Tell me what it is", which is an impossible question because, after all, the real exceeds language. Whatever is wrong with Montgomery, no language could express it. The after credits final scene is the perfect closure for Araki's narrative, as it reinserts again not only the failure of sex but also the complete failure of language.


Review by Arcadio Bolanos from the Internet Movie Database.

 

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May 8 2017, 17:49
May 8 2017, 17:47
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