Writer-director Matthew Bright first caught the eye of American indie fans with Freeway, a bizarre update of Little Red Riding Hood which starred Keifer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon. Now he returns with an even stranger spin on a Brothers Grimm fairytale - this time, Hansel And Gretel - that's being touted as a cross between Natural Born Killers and Thelma&Louise.
In its opening stages, however, what Confessions Of A Trickbaby most resembles is Girl, Interrupted, with the tough-talking Crystal (named after her mother's favourite narcotic) bonding with the other bulimic inmates and making life hell for the wardens (one of them, for her pains, receives a face full of vomit).
Crystal, who prefers to be called White Girl, has been on America's Most Wanted three times, so it's no wonder the judge (John Landis in a fleeting cameo) takes such pleasure in banging her up. Compared to Cyclona, however, she's a novice. It's only when they're on the lam, though, and Crystal finds her co-conspirator masturbating over the corpse of one of her victims, that she realises what she's got herself into...
From this point on, the road trip becomes hallucinatory, as lashings of sex and violence culminate in a delirious climax at Sister Gomez's refuge. Bright throws in winking references to Hansel And Gretel (lost in the woods, the girls leave a trail of crack crumbs), while bombarding the viewer with wild imagery and wilder camera angles. It's enough to give Oliver Stone a migraine.
Part black comedy, part deranged fantasy, Confessions... is an original, as hard to classify as it sometimes is to watch. Its saving graces are the leads, with Natasha Lyonne's brassy bravado well matched by Maria Celedonio's feral unpredictability. Both, however, are outclassed by Vincent Gallo's outrageous turn as Sister Gomez, giving the kind of performance for which the word `camp' was surely invented.
The Brothers Grimm get a Tarantino makeover in this bizarre mix of road movie, urban thriller and nightmarish fairy tale. Matthew Bright's follow-up to Freeway is not an easy picture to sit through, but the performances make it worth the effort.