Drowning by Numbers

Director: Peter Greenaway
Year Released: 1988
Rating: 2.0

Obsessive compulsive disorder couples with some faux-deranged form of autism in this Greenaway count-a-thon, in which people engage in various number games to get through the rather deadweight conceit (three women drown their three husbands). Beauty is evident in every frame - Greenaway makes good on his claim to take cinema away from its literary roots - but the visual appeal and numerical tomfoolery remind me of a story in Oliver Sachs' collection The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat that involves two autistic boys that play a game with prime numbers together and Sachs himself struggles to figure out the game's purpose - after a while, he is exiled from the game by the boys because of his (human) limitations. Immense fun for those (like me) that enjoy experiments of any kind, but without tying the story of murder and math together to something broader (like The Cook, The Thief, etc.'s political critique or A Zed and Two Noughts' theories on decay and filmmaking), it remains, though playful, mostly unsatisfying.