How does a first-time director attract a punk rock icon for their debut film?
If you're Toby Tobias, I can't help but think it involves writing a a script that practically demands the presence of such an icon. In this case, that icon is Iggy Pop, whose latest release "Post Pop Depression" is earning rave reviews, is Bill in Tobias's Blood Orange, the tale of an ailing rock star living out the final months of his life at a secluded Spanish villa with his stunningly beautiful and promiscuous wife, Isabelle (Kacey Barnfield,The Inbetweeners). Into their lives comes Lucas (Ben Lamb, Divergent), one of Isabelle's ex-lovers and a man who believes she's made off with his inheritance. He wants it back.
A sort of weaving together of revenge thriller meets romantic thriller, Blood Orange is a gently paced hypnotic thriller largely owing to that iconic presence of Iggy Pop. While I in no way want to imply that Pop doesn't have to act here, the simple fact is there are few people in the world who can command your attention simply by appearing on the screen.
Iggy Pop is one of 'em.
While it's entirely possible that Blood Orange would have been a compelling film without the presence of Pop, this ain't a Justin Bieber type of film. Blood Orange becomes an impossible to ignore film largely on the strength of Pop's willing it to be impossible to ignore. While no one who has listened to 'Post Pop Depression," and I have, would dare consider him an aging or ailing rock star, Pop is likely on the downside of a career so legendary you practically assume it will last forever. It's that kind of presence that he brings to Bill, a tired yet endlessly charismatic presence who still seems constantly on the edge and willing to do just about anything.
If there's a problem with Blood Orange, it's simply that no other character is required to live up to Bill's quietly demented passion and glee.
This is not to say the other characters or performances are weak. They aren't. Kacey Barnfield is quietly seductive with hints of romanticism and an air of darkness about her. It's easy to understand why Pop would be so fiercely devoted to her.
Ben Lamb's Lucas is, perhaps, the most layered of the characters, part "nut job" and part victim in Bill's elaborate yet very right on plan. Lamb's performance as times brought to mind the similarly manipulative The Talented Mr. Ripley, a definite compliment set in a different world here.
Filmed over the course of 14 days, Blood Orange is calmly paced, an approach that works well with Pop's naturally deliberate language and intense yet calm demeanor.
Yes, you can be both intense and calm.
Picked up by Philly-based indie distributor Invincible Pictures, Blood Orange arrives for public consumption on May 17th. While the story itself may have some familiar tones to it, it's a fierce and hypnotic film that is the perfect vehicle for Iggy Pop and that rare indie thriller that you won't want to miss.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic