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Fantasia 2014: ‘The Man in the Orange Jacket’ is the most misogynistic, unpleasant film of the year

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The Man in the Orange Jacket
Written and Directed by Aik Karapetian
Latvia/Estonia,2014

Typically, a brutal murderer’s wardrobe in a horror film is chosen because it’s spooky or hides some kind of physical deformity. It’s no accident in Aik Karapetian’s cruelly vile and unpleasant The Man in the Orange Jacket that the titular killer dresses that way, and no surprise that he quickly sheds himself of his uniform at the first opportunity.

Immediately after the nameless lead (Maxim Lazarev) and hundreds of other harbor workers are laid off, he walks to an expensive home in his work-clothes and brutally murders his boss and that man’s much younger girlfriend. He then slowly sets about assimilating the deceased’s lifestyle: dressing in their clothes and ordering expensive meals. Imagine if a laid-off GM employee brutally slaughtered CEO Mary Barra with a hammer.

It’s made abundantly clear early on, however, that the nicest silk robe and the fanciest drink order don’t take away his homicidal, working class tendencies. Even the way he shovels his mouth full of fine-dining suggests he may live like the one percent, but will never be one of them. Whatever good times he has in the mansion are cut abruptly short as he enters a Kafkaesque nightmare, replete with a mysterious, lingering doppelganger. A growing sense of loneliness engulfs Lazarev, exacerbating his already extreme paranoia.

Karapetian does have a decent eye, as demonstrated with his shooting of the quiet, empty home and surrounding white-covered forest from afar; the hallways and landscapes only look more desolate. However, his air of pretension gets the better of him. If it didn’t, perhaps the most overused classical piece in film history, Delibe’s “The Flower Duet”, wouldn’t play over a slow-motion walking scene without the slightest hint of irony. Clocking in at only an hour and ten minutes, the film still manages to be atrociously dull.

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It could have been far more interesting to follow Lazarev had there been any empathy. He’s a blank slate when he’s not completely homicidal. One particularly overlong fantasy scene involves Lazarev hammering a large nail through the back of a prostitute’s neck before vaginally molesting her with his fingers. It’s revolting and baseless, miles away from any class-based argument.

The Man in the Orange Jacket is one of the most wasted opportunities in recent film history. It immediately trades in any potential subtext for grotesque violence, and disturbingly explained sexual motivations for that violence. Otherwise, Karapetian is excruciatingly literal, having the lead murderer stare at portraits of royal monarchs enviously. One might argue that it’s his desire to live the luscious and decadent existence of past royalty, but there’s little in the film to back up such a statement. Between a man who lays off hundreds of harbor workers and then goes on about his day and a psychosexual lunatic who urinates in front of prostitutes, one must wonder which side of class warfare are we on?

— Kenny Hedges

Please visit the official website of the Fantasia International Film Festival.


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