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Loaded (1994): Shooting Blanks

Loaded (Anna Campion, 1994)

One of the characters looks up at the title on the movie poster.

“The stars at night are big and bright…”
photo credit: mrqe.com

Anna Campion is the older sister of Jane Campion. Jane is a noted, and notable, director (Sweetie, The Piano, etc.). Anna directed only a single feature film, 1994’s Bloody Weekend, re-released under the name Loaded. It would be, for many reasons and not all of them related to the respective genres the two sisters worked in, ridiculous to compare this film to anything Jane Campion ever did. But that comparison, wanted and warranted or not, hangs over Loaded at every turn, and I cannot claim that it did not color my judgment here. Your mileage, as always, may vary—though judging by the film’s 4.7 IMDB rating (as of March 2014) and woeful score at Rotten Tomatoes (they do not do percentages until a certain threshold of review has been reached, but the movie has no fresh reviews and four rotten ones as of this writing), it probably won’t.

Two characters contemplate a hallway in a still from the film.

“They really could have done better with the wallpaper…”
photo credit: mubi

Plot: Seven young-and-beautifuls (whose ranks include Thandie Newton, Catherine MacCormack, Oliver Milburn, and a couple of other faces you are likely to recognize twenty years later) head off into the British countryside to make a movie. It is ambitious, well-meaning, and impossibly bad. Things start off all right, but tempers start fraying for various real and imagined slights. Then someone breaks out the LSD.

I have read at least one review of this film expressing confusion at where the title came from. I’m not sure how that’s possible, considering that my biggest problem with this movie, as it is with so many movies of this stripe, is that Campion, who also wrote, uses drugs as a plot device. For me, that’s pretty much instant failure in a screenplay. The movie was already headed downhill, and it felt (as it so often does) like the writer used it as a desperation move. That it immediately transforms the movie into a morality play is a given, and from there the outcome is assured. Predictability, however, is only the surface symptom of the disease that riddles the script—it didn’t know where it was going. Some decent acting by the cast, but they didn’t have anything worth acting to work with. **

No trailer (that I can find so far).

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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