Thursday, 28 August 2008


The other night I saw Domino with my brother at a friend's place. I'd never seen it before, but had been interested, largely because the very idea of it seemed bizarrely intriguing. The premise seemed really silly: the story of a model-turned-bounty-hunter by the name of Domino. That being said, it is based on a true story--"sort of." And it stars Keira Knightley, but instead of playing in an action-movie/period piece, dressed in clothes that reveal enough of her form to mahe use of her attractiveness but don't really show as much off as many of her adolescent admirers would like, instead takes the role of the eponymous model-turned-bounty-hunter, a dirty, short-haired slut. This movie promised to twist our expectations--an ironic sort of promise, I realize--and so I was happy enough to see it.

I'm not sure what to think.

I enjoyed watching it, for sure. The movie has ample witty lines and outrageous situations (in a gritty sort of way) to make it enjoyable on a moment-by-moment basis; this and the rambling, twisting, coincidental plot make it reminiscent of Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. Less enjoyable was the staccato, broken editing that comes clearly from the caffeinated Generation ADHD. What was most riveting, though, was the character of Domino herself, the product of the wasteful and boring lifestyles of the rich and famous. The child-woman's "journey to maturity" was just as gripping as the plot events, largely because most of the audience is bored with the mundanity of modern Western life. We watch the movies Keira Knightley regularly makes as a way of escaping it, but here Keira's character actually escapes that life, delving into a world of excitement, danger, and sexuality that barely stays within the confines of the law. The movie acted both as a form of escapism and a commentary on it--especially since her chosen coping mechanism explodes, introducing her to the blood and guilt of the life she chose. During the interview that frames her narrative, we can see Domino has grown a little for the tragedy.

But even as a child, Domino was engaging in the same way the hero of Juno is--tough and capable despite her naivety. I'm not usually a fan of violence as a solution, but when Domino punched the bullying sorority girl in the face, I cheered. Domino is a heroine of a particular squadron of the feminist movement, a squadron that will succeed in a brutal landscape using any weapon at its disposal--both despite and fully embracing the attractiveness of its members.

Parts of this movie aggravated me, though. The biggest is that I'll never be able to watch Keira Knightley in a movie the same way again. I suppose this is a symptom of my wanting attractive actresses to maintain some sort of on-screen chastity, which Knightley fails to do in Domino. She shows off a lot more skin than usual, with tank-tops, belly shirts, and low-cut jeans, in public places; she also performs a lapdance, and this movie is somewhat reknowned as Keira's "full-frontal flick." In her other films, Keira is somewhat of a tease. In this, she's more of a flaunt. I don't like it. Of course, I realize the character demands this sort of presentation, and whoever played the role would have been required to do the things she did; I suppose my upset then comes from Knightley's decision to accept the role. Maybe she didn't like the idea of on-screen nudity any more than I do, but decided the movie was good enough that she ought to make it regardless. Maube she didn't think that at the time, but does now. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and imagine that one of these is true. But it will still irk me the next time I watch her on screen.

And that's not to say that I wasn't secretly hoping that the Keira Knightley-Lucy Lu interview would end with a lesbian make-out session, because that would possibly be the sexiest cinematic moment of the century. But if it had, my response would be the same--disappointment. Gratification of the baser instincts may be immediately enjoyable, but I still think it can be morally reprehensible, and I will always prefer the moral choice.

Then again, maybe I'm just a prude.


Jon Wong said...

You obviously have not seen Keira Knightley in The Hole. But judging by this post, you might want to skip that one.

The English Clergyman said...

It's quite true I haven't seen The Hole. Whenever anyone mentions that movie, I think they mean Holes, and I am always admit that she wasn't in that movie, and embarass myself. Should I not see it, then? I suppose I could, now that she's tarnished. It might bury any possibility of doubt, though, mightn't it?

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