By Amanda Smith
Flip a coin — heads you live, tails you die.
When you deal with nuts on a daily basis, chances are you’ll also become a case and your decisions will come down to one simple flip of a coin. American Perfekt, the debut effort of director Paul Chart, is the weird story of burnt-out psychiatrist-turned-psychopath Jake, played by Oscar-nominated actor Robert Forster (Jackie Brown).
He comes across Sandra, played by Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction), who’s looking for a knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet. She’s just been in a car accident and Jake is the first to pull over and help her out.
Jake becomes obsessed with the probability of chance and begins to base every decision on the flip of a coin; whether it be life, death or picking up Sandra and driving her to the nearest town.
Of course, like any good Hollywood movie, a romance blossoms. Surprise, surprise — Sandra falls for Jake. She’s intrigued by his, er, “unique” approach to life and begins following suit by making decisions based on the flip of a coin to spruce up her boring life. The story then unfolds with a series of chance situations in which only the flip of Jake’s lucky coin can determine the results.
Sandra’s rebellious younger sister appears in time for the story to spiral down from a dark romance into a really dark murder mystery. There’s lots of blood and graphic violence and even a touch of nudity (as my boyfriend so subtly put it, “you get to see the guy’s dick!”).
The story is full of complex characters struggling with their own internal and external problems.
I was disappointed with the performances, having had high hopes for Plummer after seeing her captivating scenes in Pulp Fiction. Forster’s insanity wasn’t convincing until the final few scenes.
But hey, at least the soundtrack was decent. It includes a Cowboy Junkies song and some Hitchcock-esque music. The cinematography was also clever, incorporating titled angles and crooked shots reminiscent of the old Batman series.
All told, American Perfekt was bizarre and unsatisfying. All the loose ends were tied when the movie finished, but it still needed something more.
My boyfriend said next time he would pick the movie. I told him we’d flip for it.