The Monkey's Mask review

The opening movie at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, this detective thriller scores on atmosphere and passion but fails to muster much mystery or suspense.

Based on Dorothy Porter's best-selling verse novel, it's narrated by Jill Fitzpatrick (Susie Porter), an ex-cop turned private eye who's been hired to track down a missing teenager (Abbie Cornish) in Sydney. The lesbian sleuth is soon ferreting around the alternative poetry scene, where she falls for a bisexual, married academic, Diana (Kelly McGillis), who may be connected to the disappearance.

The intense chemistry between Porter and McGillis is successfully conveyed, but director Samantha Lang seems far less assured in dealing with the rickety, often implausible plot, relying on generic staples like revealing tapes, concealed wires and sabotaged cars. And too many scenes are played for tongue-in-cheek laughs, dissipating any real menace.

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