Producer: Kerry Mondragon and Salvatore Sclafani Director: Kerry Mondragon Screenplay: Kerry Mondragon Cast: Sam Quartin, Dylan Sprouse, Nekhebet Kum Juch, Craig Stark, Thea Sofie Loch Naess, Max Madsen, Alma Martinez, Eden Anne Brolin, Cody Burkett, Eric Kofoed, Allie and Lexie Kaplan, Barbara Palvin, Jack Two Horses and Jinxy Bonesaw Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
The fact that it’s set against a pandemic gives Kerry Mondragon’s film a degree of topicality, but that’s about all “Tyger Tyger” has going for it. The movie is an incoherent mess that aims for a psychedelic vibe but comes off as just irritatingly chaotic.
The brainchild—to use the term loosely—of Kerry Mondragon, the film begins with a nod in the direction of a plot but quickly abandons narrative for a jumble of sensations. Blake (Sam Quartin) and her boyfriend Cole (Max Madsen) rob a drug store, looting the pharmacy while Blake’s chum, a mute called Bobby (Nekhebet Kum Juch), sits out in the getaway car reading “The Anarchist’s Cookbook”—a good choice for a movie that’s a bomb. In the middle of the heist Blake changes clothes with Luke (Dylan Sprouse), a heroin addict who’d been vainly trying to get a prescription filled.
Blake takes the expensive medication to the clinic run by Rosa (Alma Martinez) for distribution, but plans to deliver some to an outlying community fringe dwellers who’ve fled from conventional society. She dumps Cole and decides to kidnap Luke, who’s experiencing a withdrawal crisis, to accompany her and Bobby.
After encountering—and robbing—Uncle Joe (Craig Stark), the community’s self-declared gatekeeper, they wind up in the laid-back place, where the medicine-distribution purpose simply disappears and Blake and Luke meander about, apparently growing closer as they interact with locals like Emerald (Thea Sofie Loch Naess), most of whom are non-professional residents of Slab City, where the movie was shot. They simply pontificate or perform depending on their predilections.
There is a conclusion of sorts as Joe, his cohort Tammie (Eden Brolin) and even Cole show up in pursuit It’s not worth waiting for.
Though the script is credited to Mondragon, most of the dialogue sounds improvised, which is no help to Quartin or Sprouse, neither of whom seems expert at the art. The rest of the cast either have a deer-in-the-headlight look or come across as way too anxious to make an impression by hamming it up.
Visually Ben Brahem Ziryab’s cinematography careens from ragged and herky-jerky to painterly, with occasions in which the images literally turn into oils, and the editing by Joe D’Augustine and Fiona Mikey accentuates the hyperkinetic quality rather than ameliorating it. Daniele Luppi’s eclectic score adds to the opaque quality of the whole.
What William Blake’s poem has to do with all of this is unclear, but “Tyger Tyger” does not burn bright, and it totally lacks symmetry, fearful or otherwise.