His purple patch may have come and gone two decades ago, but Peter Greenaway, the British director of ‘Prospero’s Books’, clearly feels he still has something to say. Exactly what that might be remains unclear after watching ‘Eisenstein in Guanajuato’, a messy, hectic, fitfully amusing film-nerd farce loosely inspired by the great Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein’s adventures in Mexico in the 1930s.
As Eisenstein, Finnish actor Elmer Bäck certainly looks the part, and there’s no faulting his enthusiasm as he boogies naked around his hotel room, addresses monologues to his penis and belatedly (and noisily) loses his virginity to local smoothie Palomino (Luis Alberti). But none of this ever seems to add up to much. The script and the performances are so wacky, and Greenaway’s jump-cutting, split-screening, colour-shifting directorial style so hyperactive, that patience runs out well before half time. The result is a film that was probably a lot more fun to make than it is to watch.