Rachel Maclean: Spite Your Face
- Neil Cooper
- 6 March 2018
A dark re-imagining of Pinocchio for a post-truth era
Pull back the gold curtain and you're in another world for what might be a never-ending screening of Spite Your Face, Rachel Maclean's troublingly incisive 37 minute film-based fantasia, which comes home to Talbot Rice after first being seen in Venice last year. Drawn from The Adventures of Pinocchio, the Italian folk-tale charting the adventures of the little puppet-boy whose nose grows every time he tells a lie, Maclean's dark reimagining is as shockingly un-Disney in its depiction of greed-induced brutality as the moment when Bambi's mum got shot.
Maclean focuses on the rise and fall of Pic, a shell-suited urchin who buys his way into a blinged-up wonderland of glam-tastic delights, only to discover his celebrity lifestyle is on credit, and has been built on the flakiest of falsehoods. All of Maclean's pop-cultural tropes are intact, from its candy-coloured kids' TV animated back-drops to its ugly excursions into Shopping Channel hard-sell. Maclean plays every part with face-painted, digitally and prosthetically-enhanced relish in a production which, like her Oliver Twist/Prince and the Pauper-based Please Sir… (2014), lays bare the gaping divide between rich and poor. Except here, she goes in even harder, angrier and more ruthless.