Hallelujah!

on December 11, 1998 by Cathy Thompson-Georges
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   "What I like about Ron is that he doesn't respect your boundaries," says one of the cast members of performance artist Ron Athey's troupe in "Hallelujah!." Viewers be forewarned: Neither does this documentary. "Hallelujah!" is an unflinching look at a man whose work includes onstage enemas, body piercing and bloodletting, all of which occur on camera here. In spite of the sensational (and sometimes sickening) content of Athey's performances, "Hallelujah!" is more interesting for its insights into what would make someone want to do all this. Filmmaker Catherine Saalfield offers a thoughtful look at the underpinnings of a very extreme art. Although "Hallelujah!" can be stomach-turning, what is really memorable about this film is not the freak-show quality of Athey and his entourage, but the way this man has transmuted a bizarre childhood and painful adulthood into a sort of disgusting beauty.    Starring Ron Athey. Directed and written by Catherine Saalfield. An Artistic License release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 91 min.
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