Office worker Sharon makes up for the time wasted in her boring telephonists job, but hitting the LA bars with a male partner and living the swingers lifestyle with a very boring job. At night however, she and a male partner cruise the bars as swingers. However, after suspecting a conspiracy she becomes a born again Christian. After she settles down with a new husband, he is gunned down and Sharon she is told there is a way for them to be re-united.
Heres one that will leave you shaking with fear and rage either way, tackling very thorny subject matter in a way guaranteed to offend everyone at some point, and taking a few story turns that go way off the map.
The opening, in which a telephonist (Rogers) is drawn out of her round of monotonous daytime work and nighttime promiscuity by a growing involvement with millenarian religion, is profoundly expressive in its evocation of a nightmarish modern despair, but also manages to convey the conspiratorial creepiness of the christian sect to which the heroine is drawn, with their blank-faced assertions that the world is about to end and that anyone not on their team is due for some serious eternal frying.
Then the film leaps six years and presents Rogers with a husband (Duchovny) and child, giving you a few minutes to get used to the mood-switch before a passing psychopath widows her, and she is told in a vision to go out into the wilderness for physical transportation to Heaven. In the desert, fanaticism and despair lead her to participate in one of the most horrifying acts of spiritual and physical violence any screenwriter-director has had the nerve to depict.
But it doesnt end there, and Michael Tolkin author of the novel on which Robert Altmans The Player is based in his debut feature pulls a finale which you can take as a dream or the literal truth in which everything Rogers has been told starts to happen. The trump of doom sounds, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse gallop and, in a wonderfully simple but effective image, prison bars fall apart.
By now, the heroine doesnt want to play any more, and the film comes out with some very tough questions, not just for fundamentalists but for God Himself.
In Swedish, it would have more chance of being hailed as a masterpiece, but its subject matter is too important to be limited to an arthouse approach, and so its straightforward intensity pays off. Its not going to work for everyone, but if youre worried by the fact that 50 million people in the worlds foremost nuclear power believe the world will end in their lifetime so its not worth educating their kids or taking out a pension plan, then this crystalises every worry you have about nice men in suits who call round to tell you about Jesus Christs personal plans for you.
With a central performance strong enough to carry the film through its lurches of mood and an intermittent atmosphere of dread and wonder, this is a complex and intellectual horror story.