By David Hennessy
Being the daughter of David (director of Twin Peaks, The Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive), Jennifer Lynch (pictured right directing her young lead) has always had big shoes to fill since first sitting in the director’s chair for Boxing Helena in 1993.
Jennifer’s latest film Chained is the dark story of a young boy who is powerless to stop his mother being murdered by a taxi driver who kidnaps them both. Although the life of the boy, called Tim or Rabbit, is spared, he becomes a prisoner and grows up disturbed with a rapist/killer as the only father figure he knows throughout his adolescence.
The Irish World spoke to Jennifer, who has Irish roots, to tell her we enjoyed the film. “Thank God, I’m glad you didn’t hate it,” she laughs. “That would make this conversation really uncomfortable.”
Starring Vincent D’Onofrio (Law & Order, Full Metal Jacket), Chained is absorbing for its fresh look at issues such as institutionalisation: “For me it was an opportunity to look at how monsters are made, the human monster, and look at the cycle of violence. When children are abused, we have no business acting shocked when they grow up to be abusers themselves. It doesn’t justify the behaviour at all but what it does is explain and hopefully a dialogue of nature versus nurture can come into play.
“Damian O’Donnell wrote the original script and it was compelling but I felt it was more torture porn than psychological horror. I said to the producers: ‘I think Damian did some great things in coming up with the subject matter but I would like to study more about why this man is killing, what the relationship is between he and the boy and really isolate the audience in the same way that the boy is isolated. For all this kid knows, everyone is gone. All he’s got is this man. When Tim is in the taxi cab in the garage and his mother is being killed in the next room, I don’t need to see that. All I need to see is the boy’s face hearing that because I cannot shoot something that is as horrifying as each individual audience member is imagining and then we are bound to the boy and we go into this world with him where ultimately he learns to survive. There is the Stockholm Syndrome going on as much as the need to escape, the sense of abandonment from his family.”
Did Jennifer feel she was exploring similar themes to Boxing Helena, the story of a lonely surgeon who kidnaps a woman after an accident, amputating healthy limbs to increase her dependence on him? “Yeah and even Surveillance (Jennifer’s 2008 feature film). Someone said to me the other day: ‘You sure like trapping people’. And I thought: ‘I do?’ I don’t think it’s that I like trapping people but I am really drawn to situations where people have to behave differently to how they normally would because they cannot just get up and leave. In Surveillance, people couldn’t leave the interrogation rooms and we watched them lie and manipulate and struggle and have to come up with ways to survive it.
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