i don’t remember much about session 9 other than the fact that it was sort of a trippy, psychological horror film; and that it was well done. anderson one ups himself here, making a film that is at once reminiscent of others and still a film of its own. christian bale, too, is at the top of his game here. he takes method acting to the physical extreme by going from about 180 to 120 pounds in order to play the part.
ultimately the film is about a man who is racked with guilt and punishes himself because of his past. there are elements of lynch, fight club, macbeth and memento and some of it is easy to figure it out, but even so it’s never uninteresting because it’s impossible to know exactly where anderson is going with all this. of course it certainly helps that, outside of the mystery, there is a compelling story being told about a man teetering on the edge of sanity. the camera portrays bale’s point of view, but we know early on that he’s likely a bit out of touch with reality.
one element of the film that was pretty creative is a running game of hangman that bale plays. there’s a six letter word that ends with “er.” at one point in the film it spells mother which takes on its own meaning, later he discovers it could spell “miller” and it takes on a different meaning at that point in the story, and in the end it spells something different. it reminds me of another film that did something different – some element in that film changed as the story unfolded, but i can’t remember what the film is. dammit. the only thing i can think of is the “to serve man” episode of the twilight zone. a disturbing and welldone picture.