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Twelve Monkeys

Directed by Terry Gillian

A disturbed man named James Cole (Bruce Willis) appears, claiming to be from the future, and determined to save 5 billion people from imminent death due to a deadly virus. Naturally, he winds up in a mental asylum, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic by an eminent young psychiatrist played by Madeline Stowe. While there he also meets Jeffrey, the son of a famous scientist, and an animal rights campaigner, played by Brad Pitt. The trajectory of the story-line shows how Stowe’s character gradually comes to believe Cole’s story.




The film rehearses most of director Terry Gilliam’s favourite themes: the nature of madness vis-à-vis civilisation; the difficulty of defining notions of sanity and insanity; the possibility of time travel; the Kafkaesque plight of the small man surrounded by an uncomprehending bureaucracy; the validity and veracity of conspiracy theories; and the ineptitude and inefficacy of reductive discourses like that of psychiatry. The whole is clothed in Gilliam’s customary surreal imagery.

The three central performances are excellent. Pitt, in particular, will hardly win himself any new admirers among adolescent girls, with his portrayal of the deranged, twitchy Jeffrey, but the role just might be good for his soul.

Twelve Monkeys takes its place alongside Gilliam’s Brazil and The Fisher King as some of the finest contemporary cinema getting made. Don’t miss it.

First published in 46A









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