CHAINED FOR LIFE
AARON SCHIMBERG | USA | 2019 | 91 MIN | NR
When Chained for Life opens, beautiful sweeping shots reminiscent of Robert Altman guide us through an old hospital as we follow a young nurse from behind. Not until we hear the jarring scream of the director yelling “Cut!” is it clear that we’re seeing a film within a film. Thus begins this bizarre and deftly handled story of a set segregated into two groups—those who are disfigured, and those who aren’t. Helmed by a finicky German director (Charlie Korsmo, last seen onscreen 20 years ago in Can’t Hardly Wait), the movie within the movie depicts a mad scientist who operates on disabled and disfigured patients to rid them of their disabilities and re-enter them into society. The scientist’s dazzlingly beautiful sidekick, a blind nurse, is played by young actress Mabel (Jess Weixler, Teeth). When she agrees to coach costar Rosenthal (Adam Pearson, Under the Skin) on his acting, she struggles to overlook his severely disfigured face despite his charming intelligence and good heart. As the filming continues, Mabel’s sense of the line between reality and fiction begins to blur. Part Eyes Without a Face and part social critique, writer/director Aaron Schimberg’s Chained for Life grapples with notions of conformity, beauty standards, and the moral gray area of cinematic representation.
Cast: Jess Weixler, Adam Pearson, Charlie Korsmo, Sari Lennick
“Schimberg’s film is odd, darkly funny and—when it means to be—a little frightening.” –The New York Times
Part of the Philadelphia Film Society’s MADE IN USA series.