Leslie (Kristen Hager) is a good girl. She comes from an “L.A. suburb, my parents are divorced and now I’m searching for a new sense of purpose” [actual quote] and seems to find this with Charles Manson (Ryan Robbins) and his girls (Kaniehtiio Horn, Anjelica Scannura, Sarah Gadon). Which, as we all know, doesn’t end too well.
Perry (Gregory Smith) is a good boy. He has good grades in school, a promising career in chemistry and a nice Christian girlfriend (Kristin Adams). Everything seems to work perfectly, even though he dreads being drafted for the Vietnam war, until he gets called into the jury of the Manson trial and he falls in love with Leslie.
Leslie, My Name Is Evil effectfully combines B-Movie style, gore, sarcasm, whimsy and humor to create an actually pretty thoughtful movie about violence. It’s one of the films you should go to movie festivals for because you probably wouldn’t see them otherwise. And you’d miss out on a lot.
Harkema plays with opposites and parallels. Leslie and Perry, who basically start at the same point, both become mixed up with violence. But while Leslie revels in it and is involved directly in one murder, Perry says he abhors it and then goes on to produce Napalm for the Vietnam war.
And that’s basically the central question Harkema asks: What’s the difference between morally accepted and sanctioned violence and the other kind? How can we see the Manson murderers as pure evil, yet at the same time fight in a war where millions of people die – and see that not only as honorable, but as a social duty?
To ask these questions, the movie uses a lot of exaggeration and abstraction. His characters are mostly caricatures, but never too far removed from the truth to lose the audience. Probably because he goes about it with a great sense of humor (see the quote above, which works like “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die”).
The cast is really great. Kristen Hager, Kristin Adams and Gregory Smith are wonderful, but it was Ryan Robbins who really blew me away. [Almost makes me want to watch Sanctuary again. Almost.] They all went about it with the right mix of overacting and seriousness to pull this movie off.
Speaking of good things: The soundtrack: Amazing. And the title sequence was brilliant. And did I mention how funny this film was?
Summarising: If you get a chance to see it, do.
*How weird is it that I always want to refer to Gregory Smith as Ephram, even though I have never even seen an entire episode of Everwood but have watched the first season of Rookie Blue?