Clean, Shaven is a brief but extremely powerful look at a page from the life of a schizophrenic who is on a quest to see his daughter who has been taken from him. Peter's mental illness, we discover, is a little more than a small problem, creating in him a near-constant need to be clean and free of body hair. Throughout the film, Peter is constantly shaving, in an attempt to rid himself of the "receiver and transmitter" that he believes are housed within his body.
Peter makes it to the village where his daughter Nicole (Jennifer MacDonald) lives, only to find himself hunted by the police. The reason? Alongside Peter's arrival in town came the slaughter of a local young girl. The cops figure Nicole is next. Everyone always blames it on the psychos.
Clocking in at a spare 79 minutes, Clean, Shaven looks more like an episode of The X-Files than a feature film, yet manages to pack more of a punch than most films twice its length. The feel is that of a documentary, and the picture appears so real at times that it's hard to remember it's a fantasy. Kerrigan has created a creepy, disturbing, and graphic atmosphere. Dialogue is hardly required to get the emotions of Peter across: you can see it in his face, and in his actions. In fact, Peter goes so far as to cut off his fingernail (in vivid color) in order to get "the transmitter" out of his system. The collective groaning in a crowded theater must be tremendous.
This movie is definitely not for everyone. I'm not even sure if it's for anyone, but the bottom line is that Clean, Shaven is a spectacular example of how movies should be made. Greene deserves an Oscar nod for his work here, playing Peter so well as to make Norman Bates look like Mr. Rogers. Another hand goes to Kerrigan's direction, which plays perfectly off of Greene's acting.
If you go, be sure you know what you're getting in to. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Criterion has reissued the film on DVD with a beautifully restored transfer, featuring commentary with Kerrigan and Steven Soderbergh, a video essay on the film, and MP3 soundtrack selections.
Run time: 79 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st April 1995
Budget: $68 thousand
Distributed by: Strand Releasing
Production compaines: DSM III, Warner Bros.
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 1
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Director: Lodge H. Kerrigan
Producer: Lodge H. Kerrigan
Screenwriter: Lodge H. Kerrigan
Starring: Peter Greene as Peter Winter, Alice Levitt as Girl with ball, Megan Owen as Mrs. Winter, Jennifer MacDonald as Nicole Winter, Molly Castelloe as Melinda Frayne, Robert Albert as Jack McNally, J. Dixon Byrne as Dr. Michaels