LFF Review: Chained for Life

Hollywood has never exactly been what you’d call an equal opportunities employer. It never fails to amaze me how everyone from the ‘ugly’ character upwards in a big budget film normally looks like a model. A normal weight in the real world seems to be considered practically obese by some Studios. Having a facial disfigurement himself, director Aaron Schimberg knows all too well how the industry works. His new film Chained for Life is a biting satire.

Mabel (Jess Weixler) is a beautiful actress who takes the part of a blind woman in a horror film about people with deformities. It’s the first English-language film by an eccentric German director (Charlie Korsmo). Her male lead, Rosenthal (Adam Pearson), has neurofibromatosis. Mabel is well intentioned and gradually falls for her co-star. Whilst the filming doesn’t exactly go as planned, the pair dance around each other and a bizarre menagerie.

Chained for Life is a unique work of experimental cinema which merges the tropes of B-Movie exploitation with an offbeat rom-com. Pearson, who impressed so much in Under the Skin, once again shines as the irrepressible and relentlessly nice Rosenthal. Schimberg, presumably inspired by the 1956 film of the same name, has made one of the cleverest Hollywood satires you’re likely to see. Whilst the tide is (very slowly) turning, casting protocols still desperately need addressing. Chained for Life does this with vim and vigour, creating a hugely entertaining romp and one of the most distinct films of the year.

Chained for Life screened at London Film Festival on 16 & 18 October. It is out in cinemas on 25 October.

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