"Images" directed by Robert Altman

How does a movie show or reflect a mental state in a character? Certainly not in the made-for-tv movie mold with experts (usually male) defining the problem and everyone else (usually male) talking around the affected character ( usually female ) who's 'going mad'. As much as I like Hitchcock's "Marnie" for it's technical prowess, it fails in conveying the heart of a woman's disassociated mind. The failure comes primarily from the over dependence on dialogue which unfortunately masks more often than bridges the images and sound.

That's not the case with Altman's 'Images' featuring Susannah York as the struggling schizophrenic children's author isolated with her husband at a small house in rural Ireland. Altman relies on the camera almost exclusively in conveying the mental state of the character, the forbidding nature of shifting realities, and the dread of the potential loss of control. It is an almost silent terror/slasher film which uses pictures and shifting glances to build and release tension. Like Roeg with 'Don't Look Now' Altman trusted the power of the photographic image to carry the load. Few english language films centered on a mentally fragile character have come close to this work in it's cinematic power. Not before, nor afterward.

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