The Draughtsman's Contract

1982 Peter Greenaway movie

Rating: 17/20

Plot: Mr. Neville, the titular Draughtsman, is hired by the wife of a rich guy to draw twelve sketches of his property while her husband is away. The price? Twelve sexual favors, the going rate in 17th Century England. As he sketches, he begins to unravel some secrets about the family, secrets that gradually start to involve him.

I've probably pointed this out before, but I'm not really smart enough to be watching Peter Greenaway movies. I just pretended to like The Falls because it was the first year of this blog's existence, and I wanted all the readers I was going to have to be impressed with my intellect. Other Greenaway movies fly so far over my feeble head that I can't enjoy them at all. And sometimes, they just have too much of Ewan McGregor's penis. This one fogged up the brain, but I enjoyed its characters, their period dialogue as ornamental and frilly as their garden and wardrobes, and the way Greenaway frames his scenes. This is Greenaway's first narrative film, and he came out with his ideas guns blazing. I've criticized him for having way too many ideas, being so intellectually gloopy that there's no way the average person can connect to his movies, but there's something comforting in knowing that the artsy-fartsiness hasn't been something that developed over time but that existed right from the get-go. This puzzling little movie reminded me a lot of Last Year at Marienbad, a riddle that was a favorite from a couple years ago. Like that movie, there's nothing happening that is all that bizarre (most of the movie is a guy drawing sketches with Peter Greenaway's hand) but their interactions just don't seem right. Of course, this movie does have a statue that walks around or sometimes urinates. You can add "Peeing Statue Man" to my list of Favorite Characters Who Don't Get Any Lines. Michael Nyman provides the score. It's a gorgeous and strange film that might give you the most enjoyable headache you'll ever have. Surprisingly, there's not much nudity at all, so you perverts looking for that sort of thing should find something else to watch. Actually, almost all of you should find something else to watch.

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