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by sophie mount |

Three Below Zero

Director: Simon Aeby
Producers: Roman Kuhn, Simon Aeby, Christian Von Tippelskirch
DOP: Jamie Silverstein
Cast includes: Wes Bentley, Judith Roberts, Kate Walsh
Distributor: International Media Resources
Country: USA/Germany
Year: 1998
Length: 98 mins

Three people from the same apartment block descend into the bowels of the building to complete their menial laundry chores. Julian (Wes Bentley) is a drummer in a band who is due at a gig later that evening. He is joined by a young lady (Kate Wash) who has a short amount of time to do all her washing and get everything ready before she flies across America to see her fiancé. The two make stilted conversation and she suspects Julian of going through her washing. They soon find themselves in the company of an old lady (Judith Roberts in a tempting Miss Havisham type role) who is only down to dry her beloved dog's be Julian and his new-found companion assume that she is just bourgeoisie and has no relevance to their lives.

A storm brews in the stifling heat of summer and a thunder-clap provides just enough force to let the door slam shut and lock them all in. So begins a scenario of what happens in one of the worst places to be, on the hottest day of the year, with people you don't know. To make matters worse, the catalyst for conversation does not come until Julian bravely tries to stop an errant electric cable from causing havoc and suffers an electric shock as a result.

Once all methods of escape have been exhausted and the initial panic has passed, there is nothing left to do but endure their fate. Boredom sets in soon after and the trio take turns to torment each other; girls against boy, young against old and the old lady and Julian against the girl in true Sartre/Huis Clos style. They taunt each other with guessed failures, and steamy fantasies, and try to discover more weaknesses to tweak. The temperature rises, so to speak and climax in an unusual vision of the caretaker, who perhaps has other callings in his life.

Aeby uses visual mixing to great effect in one superb scene where of the old lady reads newspaper out aloud in a vain attempt to drown out what is going between the other two behind her, on a chair in the middle of the room. The tense atmosphere and the heat exude from the screen and the cast play perfect counterparts to each other. Walsh plays the girl who can't take criticism, but can definitely give as good as she gets, with aplomb. Wes Bentley, seen here in a film made before he shot to fame in American Beauty, proves he is more than just a one-hit-wonder and you can be sure that there will not be a shortage of his talent on our screens in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

We all judge on first impressions and perhaps this film will hint at why we shouldn't. If not then the audience will at least understand why nothing is at it may first appear and will enjoy some first-rate, non-mainstream entertainment.

Last Orders
The Hidden Fortress
Mulholland Drive
Back Against the Wall
The Bank
Dark Blue World
Beginners Luck
Gosford Park
The Pledge
The Center of the World
The Man Who Wasn't There
Baby Blues
The Score
The Circle
The Navigators
Mike Bassett:England Manager
George Washington

The Man Who Cried
Crime and Punishment in Suburbia

The Way of The Gun

Green Desert

Three Below Zero

Requiem For A Dream

The King is Alive

The House Of Mirth
The Luzhin Defence

One Day In September
There's Only One Jimmy Grimble
Miss Julie

Purely Belter
Ring 1
Ring 2
Dancer In The Dark

Angels of the Universe

The Exhibited

Billy Elliot

The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook (2nd Edition)
The Filmmakers Handbook
Imagining Reality - the Faber Book of Documentary
Before You Shoot

American Beauty


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