Slow Machine Review: Stephanie Hayes, Chloe Sevigny And Scott Shepherd's Movie Is A Slow-Burning Ordeal

Slow Machine is filled with careless whispers and unverifiable incidents. There is not one character we can trust in this doodling homage to dementia, certainly not the protagonist.

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Slow Machine Review: Stephanie Hayes, Chloe Sevigny And Scott Shepherd's Movie Is A Slow-Burning Ordeal
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I am not going to pretend that I understood all of this weird hallucinatory film. I don’t think anyone, least of all the haunted protagonist Stephanie (Hayes) knows what the duck is going on.

Who are these people Stephanie keeps running into? The film opens with a woman screaming hysterically into the phone about a crisis that we are unable to comprehend because... well... she isn’t talking, she's rambling in an extempore way that happens when the director says ‘Action’ and forgets to say ‘Cut’.

That space between ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’ is filled in Slow Machine with a kind of erratic angst /chaos/anarchy that one faces when one suddenly tries a hallucinogenic drug whose safety is not ensured by any medical authority. Stephanie is a product of the paranoia industry.When we meet her initially she has just come out of a bad relationship and is hitching up with a couple of musician friends who are badmouthing her while she listens in.

The film is filled with careless whispers and unverifiable incidents. There is not one character we can trust in this doodling homage to dementia, certainly not the protagonist Stephanie who seems, if I may use the word with due respects, unhinged. Completely. Moving in directions that are at once whimsical and aimless, Slow Machine takes us through a cheerless labyrinth of trance-formation and self-abnegation.


At one point the brilliant Chloë Sevigny (best remembered for performing real oral sex on her real-life husband Vincent Gallo in Brown Bunny) shows up as herself, haranguing about an audition gone wrong. By this point, I had stopped listening.

The camera probes into Stephanie’s life with a sterile curiosity: not quite interested enough to really care.Therefore the main character or her movement through New York’s underground culture , never really gets interesting for us.

It all comes to a boil when Stephanie meets a police officer Gerard (Scott Shepherd) who takes more than a passing interest in Stephanie’s past present and... well, whatever is to come. It cannot be called a future. Draped in doom, trapped in its own self-validation and encircled by an enormous environment of eccentricity, Slow Machine puts Stephanie and the cop in a room where they spar roughly like two hungry animals in a jungle looking to prey on their adversary.

While this unlikely twosome preys on the sense of paranoia that spills over from the plot’s visceral but vague arteries the film cares a hoot whether we care about the protagonist or not. Will she come out of this self created tunnel of darkness?

At one point the cop sighs loudly and mumbles, ‘It’s time to end this.’ No truer words are heard in this mumble-fest of existential chaos. I sat through it in the hope that Stephanie’s desires would eventually make themselves intelligible .We know she is an actress and that she’s played by a capable actress. Nothing more.

Oh, one more thing. I also stayed on till the end because I saw an Indian’s name Srihari Sathe, as one of the producers. After all, this is the week when we must feel patriotic.




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