*Online Premiere* In the documentary “My Best Fiend,” Werner Herzog quotes his apex collaborator and bête noire Klaus Kinski, as he tried to elbow his way into an elaborately planned landscape shot for the opening of "Aguirre, the Wrath of God:" “the only fascinating landscape on this earth,” Kinski is supposed to have said, “is the human face.” The center of "Splendona," both its images and its world, is the face of Lydia, a woman living with a facial disfigurement who’s preparing for a runway show with the titular fashion label. It is indeed a fascinating landscape, superficially distorted yet lit up by intelligence, curiosity, and sometimes pain. The film itself is an oblique account of pain: Lydia’s unease grows as she picks at questions about her origin, her physical embodiment, and the motives of the fashion machine that wants to make use of (that is, to consume) her face.
There’s more than a little of the high giallo style here, especially in the picture-making: Lydia is spotlit and tiny in her dollhouse bedroom like a voyeur’s plaything. Or her face and figure are pinned on a Suspirian field of red. Elsewhere, walls are punched-out sheets of black; Lydia’s closet melts into a grainy murk and opens on the surgical light of a prebirth memory.
Though there are snatches of theme and plot, they’re worn lightly, and Splendona plays to its provocative strengths by not getting weighed down by a swollen sense of its own aboutness. What it delivers, in ten minutes and set to a nicely curated soundtrack of arty EBM and Freestyle jams, is raw confrontation and a fleshly immediacy. Directed by Kevin Vu. Starring Alison Midstokke, Angela Dee. Cinematography by Laura Valladao. Produced by Artemis Shaw. Production Design by Melissa Manke. Costume Design by Sofia Paz.