Nowhere

on May 09, 1997 by Joseph McBride
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   The final installment of Gregg Araki's "teen apocalypse" trilogy (following "Totally F***ed Up" and "The Doom Generation"), "nowhere" wants to have it both ways, satirizing the affectless, brain-dead anomie of his characters while at the same time reveling in their nihilistic hedonism. A movie that makes "Less Than Zero" seem quaint and square (how quickly times change), "nowhere" no doubt also will seem ridiculously dated in the near future, if it doesn't already. Araki's once-minimal budgets have risen to give this film a glossy metallic surface, with emptily pretty Los Angeles Gen-Xers striking self-conscious poses against stylized backgrounds, like models in high-fashion advertisements. The chic visual tone, which ironically glorifies consumerism, is comically juxtaposed with the characters' constant stream of gutter vulgarity. All they seem interested in talking about are bodily functions and how to satisfy their immediate physical urges.
   But the sex on display is joyless, even deadly. There's little plot (plot demands reason); "nowhere" is mostly a series of absurdist incidents interspersed with escalating incidents of stomach-churning violence and encounters with a cheesy-looking alien who seems to have wandered in from the set of an old Roger Corman movie. That device is oddly appropriate, for the people in "nowhere" behave like characters from a sci-fi movie.
   The only ones with recognizable human emotions are a sweet ingenue (Sarah Lassez) who gets horribly brutalized and James Duval's Dark, Araki's disaffected protagonist. Dark sadly calls himself "old- fashioned" because he wants to be monogamous with his bisexual, I'll-try-anything girlfriend ("The Craft's" Rachel True). Underneath Araki's hedonistic skin there beats the heart of a Puritanical moralist, maybe even a latent straight. But the conflicts on display here are too flippantly rendered to be affecting.    Starring James Duval, Rachel True, Nathan Bexton, Debi Mazar and Sarah Lassez. Directed and written by Gregg Araki. Produced by Gregg Araki and Andrea Sperling. A Fine Line release. Comedy/drama. Rated R for scenes of strong violence, sexuality and drug use involving teens, and for strong language. Running time: 82 min.
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