CLOUD OF SKIN 2015 Maximilian Le Cain

Nikola Gocić reviews Cloud Of Skin, 2015, directed by Maximilian Le Cain 

Both a filmmaker and a film critic who occasionally flirts with performance art, Maximilian Le Cain (born in 1978) has to be one of the most prolific (underground) cine-professionals around, with over one hundred (!) films of various lengths under his sleeve. The Solipsist of EFS (Experimental Film Society), in the words of Donal Foreman, this Cork-based experimenter has collaborated with many artists, including Vicky Langan (since 2010), Karen Power (Gorging Limpet), Esperanza Collado (Operation Rewrite) and EFS founder and fellow auteur Rouzbeh Rashidi with whom he has co-directed several diptych features, the latest being an ambiguous “Janus-headed self-portrait” Self Decapitation. His works have been described as “the most depressing and navel-gazing” (by curator Sarah Iremonger) and “possessed by the aesthetics of interruption” (by Esperanza Collado), but the truth – his truth – lies somewhere in-between the fragments of VHS, (H)DV and DSLR dreams.

These very same dreams, but also memories and hallucinations shared by the creator himself and his creations – the enigmatic characters gifted with visionary powers – constitute Le Cain’s feature-length debut Cloud of Skin. Bordering a mellow nightmare which feeds you with unrest, a fantastic or rather, phantasmal “love story” that simmers beneath its impenetrable surface plunges you into the unknown, hermetic world inhabited by wandering ghosts and built around cold places turned into abstract con- cepts. Everything Le Cain shows to us, whether it’s the suburbs or the woods, feels quite familiar but simultaneously uncanny, impregnated with the inner turmoils of the three unnamed protagonists (portrayed by Dean Kavanagh, Eadaoin O’Donoghue and Siannon O’Neill). Their oft-shifting (un)realities dissolving before our eyes give us the impression that some dark, destructive emanation is about to appear any moment, as the associative imagery enveloped in the haunting soundscapes of Karen Power burns itself into our memory.