In a very critical scene of encounter between two characters loving the same woman exchanged the wonderful lines that sums up as the gist of the film.
‘Do you think insanity could be so simplest thing as unhappiness?’ asked the one.
‘Maybe it’s the other way around,’ replied the other.
Based on J R. Salamanca’s novel and screenplay, Robert Rossen’s ‘Lilith’ is certainly one under watched but surely a brilliant psychological thriller cum drama. In a slow and shocking way it unfolds to screen the puzzling thin dividing line between human sanity and insanity. A young and disillusioned ex army man returns to his home town after years and strangely chose to work as assisting therapist in insanitarium. The man is found sincere, controlled towards his job and impersonal towards his patients, until slowly he got drawn towards a beautiful, smart and enigmatic young blonde patient. I won’t spoil the show revealing it anything much further than this for those who haven’t watched it.
According to Jewish mythology, ‘Lilith’ means female night evil. Lilith is regarded as the first wife of Adam. However I don’t found much direct biblical connection in the film, except in the form of its central female character. This is the kind of film which immediately reminds me of Polanski’s those awesome ‘Apartment Trilogy’, however made later. Like two irresistible blondes, Catherine Deneuve in ‘Repulsion’ and Mia Farrow in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, this film also brought to screen another beautiful blonde with harrowing psychological character study. Jean Seberg, perhaps played her career’s most vital role here after ‘Breathless’. She plays the seductive schizophrenic patient with many ambivalent strides. Seberg is strongly supported by refreshingly dashing Warren Beatty with performance fully absorbed in his character. The film has absolutely controlled and probably his career best direction by Robert Rossen, the man who made classic Paul Newman starrer ‘The Hustler’ prior to this. It’s so unfortunate that he died at 57 leaving this swansong.
Shot beautifully in artistic B&W frames, the film from its very beginning set proper mood, setting and tone and give a room for space to unravel the characters and wonderfully maintain certain level of enigma about what’s happening in the minds of several of its characters, including the two lead ones. The film is surely a personal one, blending drama and thrill through passionate, mysterious and shocking images and narration. It has so many interesting scenes that demands re-observation for cinephiles.
Highly recommended one.