Time Out says
At the beginning of his latest film, Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer cautions his audience that what it is about to see is not a work of art but a horror film concerning “an ideological debate.” The statement is partly tongue-in-cheek, of course, but the brief intro illuminates how the 71-year-old director’s Lunacy, while rooted in familiar Svankmajer fixations like Edgar Allan Poe and the Marquis de Sade, represents a departure, particularly in its plot construction and overt political pessimism.
Following a reasonably straightforward narrative, Lunacy is surprisingly conventional by Svankmajer standards—that is, as conventional as a film can be while still pausing periodically for interludes of stop-motion animation that feature various cuts of dancing meat and body parts such as pulsating tongues and disembodied eyeballs. Haunted by a recurring nightmare of white coats carrying him off in a straitjacket, Jean (Liska, resembling a hollowed-out Johnny Depp) is on his way to the asylum where his mother recently died, when he gets a lift from a creepily charming Marquis (Triska), whose preferred leisure activities include ritual blasphemy, sacramental rape and having himself buried alive. The mixed-period French setting creates a pervasive undertone of uncertainty, culminating in a paranoiac sequence of institutional terror that’s alleviated only by the occasional interruptions of that dancing meat. (Now playing; Film Forum.) — Joshua Land