Plot: What’s it about?
Peter Winter (Peter Greene) wants nothing more than to find his daughter Nicole (Jennifer MacDonald), who now lives in the home of her adoptive parents. He was just released from a mental hospital and soon, discovers that his own mother was behind the adoption plan, which ended with Nicole being handed over to her new parents. This sends Peter on a wild search to track down his child, which is no simple task, given the set of circumstances he faces each and every second of his life. You see, Peter is a schizophrenic and as he continues his trek, his head is filled with voices from all sides, even the telephone wires seem to speak to him as he drives down the open road. As he gets closer and closer to his daughter’s new home, he has to hold on to what shards of real life remain, which seem to get smaller with each day that passes. He soon runs on the wrong side of the law and is trailed by Detective McNally (Robert Albert), who thinks he has become a child killer in his frantic search. How will this tragic and dangerous journey end up for Peter, McNally, and of course, young Nicole?
This might not be the kind of flick to show at church socials, but Clean, Shaven is a very powerful and memorable motion picture. The film takes a complex, troubled character and puts us right inside of that mind, which in turns gives the film some of the character’s issues. As time passes, it seems like second nature to see this flawed realm, so more normal moments almost seem out of place with this movie. You won’t find much in terms of complex dialogue or stunning visuals here, but Clean, Shaven is very well made, as far as minimalist efforts are concerned. That’s not to say the writing or visuals are bad, it’s just that these elements take a backseat to the main character and the internal struggle that boils inside of him. I’ve read reviews where people have claimed this film was painful and I can understand that, as this is a depressing and dark look into human nature, with a few moments that could shock some folks. I don’t want to ruin anything for new viewers, but there’s a scene with a fingernail that defies words, you will remember that moment if no others. This disc from Winstar is as minimalist as the film, but nowhere near as memorable, so I am recommending this one as a rental to those interested.
The main reason Clean, Shaven works so well is because of Peter Greene, who turns in one heck of a memorable performance. Greene is given a complex character to work with, but little in terms of dialogue and other elements to develop it, but he drives home the texture of the role nonetheless. Since there is not much dialogue for Greene to lean on, he is forced to use more subtle and non verbal ways to advance his character, which he does and does very well indeed. I knew I was in for a good performance when I saw Greene was listed as a lead here, but I had no idea his turn would be this powerful and in truth, it is almost impossible to forget. Other films with Greene include The Mask, Blue Streak, Permanent Midnight, The Usual Suspects, Black Cat Run, Pulp Fiction, and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. The rest of the cast includes Jennifer MacDonald, Megan Owen, Jill Chamberlain, Molly Castelloe, and Robert Albert.
Video: How does it look?
Clean, Shaven is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This should have been anamorphic of course, but this is still a mighty good lookin’ image we have here. The source print used looks excellent, with minimal wear signs and that means the other elements are allowed to come through, which they do in this case. The colors seem on the subdued side, but I think that is intentional and as far as contrast, black levels seem mixed to utter perfection with this transfer. I think the added resolution of an anamorphic treatment would have sweetened this one even more, but fans and newcomers alike should be pleased with this more than solid presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not much to discuss here, as this disc houses a simple stereo track, which is not that memorable, but gets the basics covered. This film has much less dialogue than most movies, but even so, the vocals seem to the main focus of this mix. With all the various voices involved, I think some dynamic presence would be awesome, but this mix just offers the sheer basics and little else. It all comes across well enough, but it seems like somewhat of a missed chance with this kind of potential, the voices I mean. The other elements seem to be more of the same, which means adequate, but not as full as we’ve come to expect from these discs. Not a bad track by any means, but I do wish some surround use was present at times.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some filmographies, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.