8 Nov 2023

Review: Bad behaviour

From At The Movies, 7:30 pm on 8 November 2023

Bad Behaviour is star-studded but arty, reflecting its auteur’s pedigree. Alice Eglert is Dame Jane Campion’s daughter.

Bad Behaviour, Jennifer Connelly

Photo: supplied / Bad Behaviour

Eglert plays Dylan, a stunt performer on a cheesy sci-fi film being shot in the middle of Central Otago. 

She has a prickly relationship with mother Lucy, played with all the stops out by Jennifer Connolly.    

I had to be told later that Lucy’s a “former child actor”, it certainly doesn’t come up in the movie. Right now she’s off to something called a “semi-silent retreat” in deepest Oregon.

I now have several questions.  Why Oregon? I mean, it looks very similar to Central Otago to me anyway, so why not set it there?

And what’s a “semi-silent retreat”?  Is it the same as The Piano’s “elective mute”?

Getting back to “why Oregon?” there do seem to be an awful lot of Kiwis there, including a Samoan chap, Ana Scotney from Cousins and the omnipresent Tom Sainsbury – not to mention a Russian model called Dasha Nekrasova and the retreat’s English guru Elon, played by Ben Wishaw.

Wishaw certainly classes up Bad Behaviour a bit, but it does beg another question. Are hippie retreats where you try and find yourself still a thing?  

You know, publicly beating yourselves up about your traumas, role-playing yourselves as babies, missing out on breakfast if you happen to sleep in?

Since we have no clue what Lucy actually does these days, and what she wants out of this retreat - at least this time everyone keeps their clothes on - all we can do is follow her behaviour, which is pretty awful.  

She seems to have issues with her late mother, culminating in a violent tantrum when she blames everyone else for… well, everything.

We don’t see much of this in the cunningly expert trailer for Bad Behaviour, but stunt-woman Dylan has her own rather vague issues, often linked to her own mother.  

Presumably this is to indicate a consistent plot or theme. You know, mothers and daughters, what are you going to do?

At the end mother and daughter leave Oregon and Central Otago, and end up bonding in - why not? – San Francisco. Although it looks quite a lot like Central Otago to me.  

I only have one more question.  When the considerable amount of New Zealand public money was spent on Bad Behaviour – stars like Ben Wishaw and Jennifer Connolly don’t come cheap, after all – did anyone ask who might want to see this? And if not, why not?

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