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      States of Control
    Bout of control

    A yuppie in a midlife crisis alternates between repression and indulgence in new experiences, in the sensual but unsympathetic "States of Control."


    Some part of Lisa yearns to get out of the rat race. "Sometimes," she tells herself in an opening voiceover, "I think when I grow old I'll live in a small hut high in the mountains, no electricity, no road, an hour's walk to the nearest post office, and I'll be by myself and watch the clouds."

    Written and directed by: Zack Winestine.
    Cast: Jennifer van Dyck, John Cunningham, Ellen Greene, Stephen Bogardus, Jennie Moreau, Stephen Gevedon, Nancy Giles, Matthew Sussman, Jason Culp.
    Cinematography: Susan Starr.

    Related links: Official site
    Watching the film "States of Control" is really not so different from staring at the clouds. It feels big and dramatic at first but you can't keep it up for long without the romance wearing thin.

    The story is about a yuppie woman (living in a luxurious Murray Hill apartment and working at a theater in the West Village, the landmarks suggest) in a state of sensual denial interrupted by bold sensual experiments — control and the deliberate loss of control. Her husband has become impotent, depriving her of sex for three years. More than that, she seems to fear that she has stopped really living, and so she starts to subject herself to sometimes-jolting experiences to reconnect herself with the world.

      States of Control
    She searches for true forms of pleasure and indulges in extremes of pain, trying to distinguish between real and faux experience and bring out the genuine person inside. She deprives herself of sleep for days at a time, inflicts excruciating pain on herself, and becomes fascinated with a pornographic tape that even she considers ridiculous. She falls under the spell of a small-minded but arrogant theater director whose own power fantasies feed her newfound masochistic streak, and becomes fascinated with an actress who's also a sometimes-erotic photographer.

    Sometimes we cringe at her explorations, sometimes we get interesting observations into how we experience the world. "I don't want a CD player," she tells her photographer friend while listening to a symphony on headphones in a record store. "All of this technology only highlights our inability to hear. With 78s, you couldn't play a record while you were doing something else, so you had to pay attention. . . . When LPs were introduced, it became background music."

    By plot alone, "States of Control" feels flimsy — it's hard to sympathize with this well-to-do woman's midlife crisis in a city where most people can barely afford a studio. But the best part of "States of Control" is watching, hearing, tasting, feeling along with our protagonist. Director Zack Winestine accentuates the sensory experience with the only two tools really available in film — sight and sound. Through lushly filmed closeups during which we even hear the characters' own breathing, we are invited to share every sensation vicariously and examine our own feelings of pleasure and pain. It's a movie to soak up if not long remember.

    APRIL 13, 2001

    Reader comments on States of Control:

  • [no subject]   from Anny, Jun 17, 2005
  • JENNIFER VAN DYCK hooks you !   from Sumac, Nov 17, 2009

  • Post a comment on "States of Control"