CRUISING PURGATORYProduced by Michael Serrian, Dean St. John, Jeff Markgraf
Directed by Dean St. John
Written by Michael Serrian
Edited by Jeff Markgraf
Director of Photography - William J. Stewart
Charlie - Ken Arquelio
Lulu - LoriDawn Messuri
Johnny - James Ward Dean
Meg - Michelle McFall
Luluís Dad - Brad Sergi
Cigar Man - T.R. Richards
Do you ever wonder how life led you to the point where you are now? Was it a straight line from point A to point B? Was the road meandering, filled with obstacles? Were the keys to life just handed to you with a silver spoon?
Do you ever wonder about how the choices we make today will affect our future? We might not know the consequences of our actions for years to come, and even then the results arenít always what we would like them to be.
These are some of the questions I ponder each night before falling asleep. They are like Chinese water torture for the self-aware. Questions we ask ourselves for on other reason than to keep ourselves awake at night.
They are also questions every filmmaker should ask himself about the characters he plans to put to screen. Actors use these question as tools to create a performance, but rarely does a filmmaker ever use them to tell his story. Plots are already developed to the point where itís just a matter of painting with watercolors and following the numbers.
The good people at the Sprocket Factory have chosen to use those questions as a way to tell character-driven genre fiction in their film CRUISING PURGATORY, a love story about the road to hell. Charlie and Lulu are both losers with little in the way a future, but for the time being they have each other. In the now, thatís all that matters.
Ken Arquelio is Charlie, a hitman who just put a bullet in the back of his best friend Johnnyís head. For Charlie business is business and when the Cigar Man is footing the bill you do as your told. Thinking heís hardened enough to be able to separate business from his personal world, Charlie is surprised to find himself plagued by guilt. Whenever he turns the corner, thereís Johnnyís ghostly head floating in the air and taunting Charlie mercilessly.
Lulu is a stripper who has been repeatedly raped by her terminally ill farther for most of her life. Humiliated and degraded, the only solace she finds is with Charlie and dancing. With Charlie she finds intimacy. In dancing she finds her own sexual dominance. LoriDawn Messuri is a real find, an actress who can believably embody Luluís gentleness and warmth one moment and her explosive rage the next.
Both Charlie and Lulu find themselves loosing their sanity and forced to make choices that will either lead to their salvation or take them straight to hell. The choices they make arenít necessarily the correct ones, but they are correct to them. These are characters that define their choices, not characters defined by their choices.
Director St. John never lets his characters wrestle with moral ambiguity. Thatís not the road he wants to travel. These are characters that only want to do right by one another if only they knew how. St. John steps back and lets the characters follow their own course. As viewers, we are privileged enough to go along for the ride. And man, what a ride it is. Both visually stunning and deeply moving.
You can order this video directly from the filmmakers or get a free copy when you subscribe to Femme Fatales magazine. Either way, itís a deal.