Dangerous Game (1993)

Where to start with Abel Ferrara’s “Dangerous Game”? Is it an indictment of the movie industry, or is it an accidentally revealing glimpse of it? Is it a rejection of Hollywood’s misogyny or a celebration of it? Is it arguing that the film industry is filled with unlikable, abusive egomaniacs, or is it instead unaware that its audience can’t possibly like these characters? It’s hard to decipher, just as the movie itself is hard to pinpoint: It’s a movie about shooting a movie, and Ferrara’s camera captures a volatile movie set populated with out-of-control narcissists with more power than common sense or professionalism, but Ferrara seems so unintentionally focused on the commonality of female exploitation that it’s difficult to engage with the movie itself. It’s particularly muddy to watch Madonna here, as the superstar is clearly relishing the opportunity to tackle a demanding role (and she’s first-rate from beginning to end), while Ferrara seems instead intent on exploiting her in a variety of ways. The project is not helped by a strident, one-note James Russo, while lead Harvey Keitel is both a bore and a boar, and ultimately the finished product is unpleasant, thematically unclear and pointless.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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