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Timecode Review

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The screen is split between four stories set in the film-making world, each fading in and out in turn as the plots begin to link up.

★★★★★

Though those with long memories will remember Wicked Wicked (1973) , a thriller shot in 'Duo-Vision', as a precedent, this experiment for the digi-beta age, consisting of four single takes shot simultaneously in one afternoon, audaciously tries to do something at once different and approachable. The takes each fill a quarter of the screen and run continuously, though the dialogue -improvised by the cast to a story template by Figgis - is mixed up and down to indicate which frame should hold the attention. Presumably, when it comes out on DVD, the viewer will be able to choose which segment he/she looks at or listens to.

As avant-garde items go, it's not offputting - if headachey in parts - with its attractive, talented cast and flashes of Player-like wit, though one imagines Figgis' pitch might have emphasised the cheapness and the number of babes in the cast.

Lesbian businesswoman Jeanne Tripplehorn is suspicious of her aspiring actress girlfriend Salma Hayek, whom she ferries to an audition in her limo while planting a bug in her bag, and Hayek actually has a liaison planned with laid-back producer Stellan Skarsgard, who is on the outs with his wife (Burrows), the latter careening from shrink (Headly) to coke (like several other characters) as she decides whether or not to leave him.

Meanwhile, Skarsgard's development team are waiting to take a pitch from an amusingly pretentious young filmmaker (agented by Kyle MacLachlan). All along, several earthquakes jolt cast and camera (but not background buildings or extras), and it's clear that only an act of violence will bring everything together.

A pioneering use of split screen technology that perfectly compliments the subject matter.