Review| Palindrome (2020)

Review| Palindrome (2020)

Marcus Flemmings reached out to me after I reviewed his last film, Six Rounds, to view and review his newest film. If you follow my reviews, you might remember that I found Six Rounds to be effective conceptually with the exception of one particular scene where Flemmings’ attempt at, perhaps, magical realism didn’t quite land the punch for me, but also didn’t do any damage to the strength of the rest of the film. 
Enter Flemmings’ newest film, Palindrome, which, once again, throttles into high gear with an eccentric dance scene between what appears to be a doctor and a nurse and then a quiet supper between them as well before the film titles come up. I personally love a film that can already off-center my expectations from the first few minutes and Flemmings succeeds here. I had no idea what I was about to see once the titles ended. And any guess I might have had would have been completely wrong and that is something to be admired.
Palindrome works conceptually like its title would suggest in that there is a way that the film could be read from beginning to end or from the end to the beginning because the same eccentric scenes—with tweaked variations much like a mirror—bookend the whole of the film. What these scenes flank are two separate, but connected, tales of outsiders, a black man, Fred (played by Jumaane Brown), in what appears to be a stark asylum who strives for freedom and remembers (or perhaps actually astrally projects himself to the past or future…or present?) a particular moment where he took part in a robbery and a white lesbian artist, Anna (played by Sarah Swain, Devs) who navigates a current relationship while recalling the ascent and descent of her previous relationship, one might say, her true love. 
There are little details that connect the stories together like the painting that looks like the blood splatter of a gunshot wound or something similar that we see each of these principle characters interact with in their stories as well as the means by which Flemmings chooses to tell their stories, paralleling their past and present together in a disorienting interplay that plays off of the film’s title making the viewer question whether these separate stories, too, will end where they began. 
I am pleased to say that as a whole, Palindrome, succeeds in its high concept delivery. Whether the internal logic of the film actually works is a question for someone much smarter than myself, because a film that can simultaneously disorient but keep me invested nonetheless deserves all of my plaudits. Where Six Rounds’ attempt at magical realism disrupted that film’s enchantment, the moments of magical realism and near sci-fi in Palindrome only add texture to an already complex and deeply human story about outcasts and their search for freedom and love.

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