Film

Film

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Confined to her New York loft since losing her leg in an accident, depressed agoraphobe Anne (French art-house star Nathalie Richard) silently pines after her distant architect husband, Donnie (Daniel Aukin), an uptight nebbish with no discernible sex drive or personality. Anne’s half-sister, Iris (Sarah Adler), a wild thing who plays disco, throws food at the walls, and lapses often into discomfiting bursts of candor, shows up one day, and duly jolts the couple from their placid misery. David Barker’s Afraid of Everything is a stifling chamber piece laced with Repulsion-style foreboding and an undercurrent of kink. (A largely offscreen presence, Anne’s prosthetic leg poses the unavoidable question: What would Cronenberg do?) The rare Sundance indie that thrives on psychological ambiguity (perhaps as a result, it’s been languishing undistributed since 1999), the film effectively conjures an atmosphere of purposeful aridity (Deborah Lewis’s stringent black-and-white cinematography helps) even as it flirts with preciousness (the starched dialogue has an unflattering Off-Off-Broadway ring). And while her co-stars all too easily revert to arch mannerisms, the wonderful Richard, best known for her work with Jacques Rivette and Olivier Assayas, can animate even the most bloodless lines.