Something is not right with Malcolm (Jack Foley). We first meet this mystery man as he wakes up in a fugue. Despite his state of confusion, everything seems fine for the moment. Outside, the birds are singing, beautiful morning sunlight beams through a window, and Malcolm finds himself in a chic bedroom that’s furnished like a CB2 showroom display.
Is this Malcolm’s home or ground zero for last night’s one-night-stand? We don’t know, and neither does he, but there’s a creeping sense that what’s happening is far more sinister than a hangover from a late-night bender. But nothing screams out suspicious like the bottle of pills sitting on a nightstand attached to a note telling Malcolm to pop one.
Before long, we meet Malcolm’s wife Helen (Laura Tremblay), and she spills some crucial details. They were in a car accident, and now Malcolm is recovering from a severe case of whiplash. Lucky for him, his memory will return in due time. She’s patient and understanding, and perhaps too sweet to be believable.
There’s an underlying tension to Malcolm and Helen’s interaction that screams out that writer-director Tomas Street isn’t setting up a 50 First Dates kind of situation. When unannounced visitors start showing up at the couple’s secluded home, Fugue switches gears from an intriguing mystery to a tense thriller. To reveal any more would spoil all the fun.
Street’s lean and pulpy crime-thriller isn’t lacking for sex, violence, and seedy characters. Not one of this cast of wretches has a sentimental bone in their body. If you enjoy sordid crime capers, then you’re in luck because Fugue goes to some dark places. Despite cinematographer James Griffith’s brightly-lit sets and the slick production design, you can really feel the piss and vinegar coursing through the film’s veins. Fugue has a serious mean streak.
Fugue has lots of plot twists and turns that force you to pay attention to keep up with the plot. Given Malcolm’s memory issues and how the story jumps between timelines, you can feel a heavy Christopher Nolan influence here. But street imbues the film with a degree of darkness and grit you won’t experience from the work of a mainstream filmmaker like Nolan.
This cold-blooded crime flick doesn’t look to reinvent the wheel. All Street wants to do is entertain his audience with a lean, mean 90-minute thrill ride. You won’t root for any of Fugue’s deplorable characters, but you won’t want to look away either.