What happens when you mix the high-octane French film La Femme Nikita with a Lifetime-woman-in-peril movie? If you're an avant-garde filmmaker trying to construct a movie about identity and parallel dream lives while working with glossy trash material, the resulting hybrid might look like Shattered Image.
The Chilean-born, Paris-based Raul Ruiz is considered one of world cinema's premier directors, but it would be hard to tell that from this baffling and obtuse film, written by television veteran Duane Poole.
Poor Jessie (French actress Anne Parillaud, who still seems stunted when delivering lines in English) is suffering from a split identity. In one life, she's a cold-hearted killer-for-hire in Seattle; in the other, she's a tremulous bride honeymooning at an exclusive Jamaican resort. In both, she's still haunted by a brutal rape. Jessie's confused, but she's not the only one.
Anytime one Jessie loses consciousness, she slides into the life of the other. In each, there is a slippery, handsome man named Brian (William Baldwin, the least expressive of the acting clan), an assertive and duplicitous woman (Lisanne Falk) and a kind-hearted man who must die (Graham Greene).
Ruiz seems to be aiming for a meditation on suppressed memory and rage, but just creates situations where the sinewy Parillaud can be seen in lovely lingerie.
In the end, the only thing Shattered Image advocates is that exploited women get in touch with their inner-assassin.
Serena Donadoni writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.