Saturday 25 January 2014
Imitation of Life: What Delightfully Subtle Sati- MY EMOTIONS!
The colour palette here isn't as stunningly over the top as All That Heaven Allows because the relatively strong script doesn't require cinematic showmanship to carry it along. Instead Sirk pulls a cunning narrative bait-and-switch, starting to tell us the story of aspiring actress Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) before trailing off into the tortured lives of submissive black maid Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore) and her fair-skinned daughter Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner). As the "struggles" of Lora become more inane and materialistic the plot line involving the black characters becomes darker and more visceral. In his final Hollywood film, Sirk slowly peels off the glossy veneer he'd brilliantly disguised his films with earlier to tell one of the most viciously honest stories of contemporary racism in America. Sirk never made another Hollywood film, and although this film had nothing to do with it (in so far as not provoking significant controversy) it's thrilling to see one of Old Hollywood's most cunning, considered and pragmatic directors kick off his heels and lay into the broken and vacuous culture that had nurtured him.