• It is bizarrely comforting to see Peter Strickland’s name come across in the opening titles. Strickland always authors an unconventional work- a breath of fresh air- and In Fabric does not disappoint.
  • This is really not a story about people (though Marianne Jean-Baptiste’s Sheila– most notably from Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies– is the most recognizable and identifiable face and character) – but about a haunted red dress that destroys everything in its path.
  • Sheila is a simple woman, a good woman. She dates through singles ads in the paper- she works at the post office. Her life is bathed in green from Strickland’s mise-en-scene. She has a mint green pillow, a green fan at work. Of course, the possessed dress is about to disrupt her world (and Strickland upturns the color palette- switching to red which includes copious amounts of deep red blood).
  • Strickland leans into humor (most often tongue-in-cheek) here far more than ever before: the terrible blind date (poor Sheila), the game Sorry! the retail shop workers speaking in riddles to the customers- quite amusing. Stripping the mannequin (like The Duke of Burgundy– certainly Strickland has a fetish -feels like the right word- for mannequins) with the ghoulish peeping tom through the window.
  • The quality of the film does not touch Lynch’s surrealism masterpiece (Strickland may lean more into Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy)- but there is a sort of puppet master pulling the strings here in Strickland’s nightmare creation.

Strickland is dedicated to the use of both colors and mirrors in the mise-en-scene

green is Sheila’s life before the dress, red is her life after

  • Past the half-way mark, Leo Bill as Reg Speaks takes over as the main (at least human) character. He is at a bachelor party and puts on the dress and that seals his doom. Strickland’s form is inventive (and unpredictable)- if not a little uneven.
  • There is an unfortunate choice by Strickland to go to these ugly cutaway photograph montage interludes.
  • Strickland has also dropped his immaculate credit sequence. All told, this is a step back from 2014’s The Duke of Burgundy from Strickland.
  • Recommend but not terribly close to the top 10 of 2018