The Bloody Child

Inspired by a real incidenta U.S. marine just back from the gulf war murdered his wife and was caught digging her grave in the Mojave Desert by a military patrolthis radical 35-millimeter experimental feature by Nina Menkes (Magdalena Viraga, Queen of Diamonds) searches for neither psychological motives nor sociological explanations. Cutting achronologically between stages of the marine’s arrest and details involving a marine captain (Tinka Menkes, the director’s sister and creative collaborator) and other soldiers on the scene, as well as incorporating 16-millimeter footage shot by the Menkes sisters much earlier in Africa, the film is fundamentally concerned with the overall climate of American violence and how this affects women. Apart from Tinka Menkes, all the cast members are actual Desert Storm veterans recruited from the marine base in Twentynine Palms, California, and this authenticity is part of what gives the film power. (More debatable are passages from Macbeth periodically chanted by offscreen women’s voices, the source of the film’s title.) Beautiful and difficult, haunting and frustrating, this uncompromising feature may drive you up the wall, but you aren’t likely to forget it. (JR)

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