Like Wes Anderson but much darker, and Jered Hess but much funnier, Meg Skaff’s Linda LeThorn and the Musicbox involves a protagonist (Linda) who finds herself tormented, in spite of resistence, by a music box left to her by her dying aunt Lucinda – she wants to look after her cat, but is haunted by her aunt who left her with the mysterious music box among other possessions. The viewer is allowed brief glimpses into their relationship, which expose the aunt as volatile and abusive. The whole film moves from scene to scene haphazardly and erratically. While watching, it feels almost like a parallel universe in which nothing makes sense to us but everything is normal to those within.
Skaff’s editing is sharp, swift, and professional and her direction is engineered in such a way that the viewer feels comfortable in the strangeness of the film’s events and clear lack of plot. In this way, the film moves into the realms of the absolutely insane – as does the protagonist who is at first portrayed as a troubled person verging on the depressed but reaches a level of total madness as the music box and the memories of her aunt get the better of her. What is odd is how willingly and easily the viewer can accept the transition.
Read at Unsung Films: Dirty Books.
Some of the most notable scenes in the film that I think give off the effect that I am attempting to illustrate include the moment in which Linda leaves a note for the other members of her society (a club she felt inclined to start in one of her less lucid moments called The Skin Picking Society) to find saying “I will be back soon” before standing behind the door and watching the beginning of the meeting through the glass panel. Another occurs at the end of the film, her best friend (and lover?) takes her to what seems to be a swimming pool resort type place – and when they find it old, empty and decaying, Linda goes berserk.
In spite of friend’s efforts to help Linda (she convinces Linda to throw her aunt’s possessions in the sea) Linda allows her aunt’s influence to take over her completely by holding onto her tormentor, the music box. At times the film feels empty. The director creates a sense that something exists in nothing; there are moments of running, footsteps, shouting – but with no clear reason.
In Linda’s world, in this parallel universe, her friends appear normal in a sense, but come across just as mad – in the way they accept Linda’s Skin Picking Society with no questions, the way they handle Linda in general… The director has crafted every shot, every angle, every shift from one image to the other. Through Linda LeThorn and the Musicbox, Meg Skaff has succeeded in providing a sense of the absolutely absurd and the viewer is exposed to the futility of things in a haunting, funny, and sometimes beautiful way.
Watch the trailer for Linda LeThorn and the Musicbox here:
Linda LeThorn and the Musicbox at IMDb