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Clean, Shaven (The Criterion Collection)

4.2 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On a remote Canadian island, a disturbed man searches for his daughter while being pursued by a detective.


Amidst a glut of more conventional independent films in the mid-1990s, Lodge Kerrigan's Clean, Shaven signaled the arrival of a gifted filmmaker with a singular vision. A controversial sensation on the film festival circuit when released in 1994, this riveting first feature (filmed over a two-year period on a meager budget of $60,000) is perhaps the first film to authentically convey the subjective experience of schizophrenia. This all-too-common mental illness essentially serves as a substitute for plot; instead of telling a conventional story of a murder investigation, Kerrigan leaves crucial details ambiguous as he focuses on the tormented existence of a young man named Peter (played by Peter Greene in a brave debut performance) who may or may not have brutally killed a young girl in one of the film's early scenes. His world--or rather, the world as perceived by his dysfunctional brain--is metaphorically compared to the random tuning of a radio, as schizophrenia prevents Peter from forming a cohesive reality out of the sights and sounds that constantly invade his consciousness. To express this fractured perception in cinematic terms, Kerrigan uses a truly extraordinary soundtrack--worthy of comparison to David Lynch's Eraserhead--that's frequently divorced from the visuals, emphasizing the disorienting symptoms of Peter's illness. The effect is both fascinating and deeply disturbing, especially in a notorious scene (definitely not for the squeamish) in which Peter removes one of his fingernails for reasons best left for viewers to discover. It's one of the creepiest, most unsettling moments in the history of American independent cinema, but it's also one of the things that makes Clean, Shaven a timeless and sensitively compassionate study of a condition that's mysterious and frequently misunderstood. A full decade later, Kerrigan would return to the subject of mental illness with his critically acclaimed film Keane, and David Cronenberg's Spider covers similar territory with equally unsettling results. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVD
Criterion's DVD release of Clean, Shaven is far superior to Fox Lorber's DVD release from 2000. In addition to an all-new, high-definition digital transfer supervised and approved by director Lodge Kerrigan, the DVD also includes a feature-length commentary/interview between Kerrigan and fellow director Steven Soderbergh, who became fast friends and colleagues after they met at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival. An astute interviewer in his own right, Soderbergh (who served as an executive producer of Kerrigan's 2004 film Keane) grills Kerrigan on all aspects of the making of Clean, Shaven and the various circumstances that directors must be prepared to deal with, from working with children to creatively accommodating the limitations of a "no-budget" production. Film critic Michael Atkinson contributes an audio-visual essay titled "A Subjective Assault," focusing specifically on Kerrigan's highly effective use of sound to convey the symptoms and disorienting reality of schizophrenia, and how this innovative soundtrack plays into the film's overall audio-visual strategy. Also included are eight segments of the film's original soundtrack, downloadable as MP3 files, and a booklet essay on the film by film critic Dennis Lim. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Commentary featuring Steven Soderbergh interviewing director Lodge Kerrigan
  • "A Subjective Assault: Lodge Kerrigan's Clean, Shaven" - A new video essay, written and narrated by critic Michael Atkinson
  • The film's soundtrack and selections from the film's final sound design (MP3 downloads)
  • Trailer
  • Booklet with a new essay by Dennis Lim

Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Greene, Alice Levitt, Megan Owen, Jennifer MacDonald, Molly Castelloe
  • Directors: Lodge Kerrigan
  • Writers: Lodge Kerrigan
  • Producers: J. Dixon Byrne, Lodge Kerrigan, Melissa Painter
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: October 17, 2006
  • Run Time: 79 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000H5U5RG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,744 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Clean, Shaven (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
I caught attention of this hardly known gem at a local video store, noticing bold statements as "Dare to watch it" and "Boldest, most unforgettable film of the year." This is one film where you can believe the hype. Not since "Henry: Portrait of a serial killer" has a movie really shown an in-depth cinematic representation of the mind of a serial killer. But "Clean, Shaven" is a step above films like "Henry" and "Man Bites Dog". Winner of many awards, it tells a simple story of Peter Winter, a very dangerous schizophrenic just released from an institution, and his search for his daughter, while at the same time police are trying to catch up with him. Peter Greene is absolutely convincing as the deranged schizophrenic...he shows no emotion as he shaves his head and cuts his scalp in the process, nor is oblivous to pain during a very notable scene involving his fingernail and a very sharp object. And Kerrigan's excellent direction is what moves this film to near brillance...Instead of just telling the story with characters speaking to one another, he forces us into the mind of the schizophrenic. The movie is told mainly by images and sounds, as if what Winter was really experiencing...scenes are made unsettling by disturbing sampling and music, with long scenes of almost surreal images, intesifying the tension of the movie. After watching "Clean, Shaven", you'll have the feeling of meeting a real-life schizophrenic. Not many movies can boast this fact, nor make it realistic, but "Clean, Shaven" does that, and more. One of the most unforgettable films, indie or not, in the past few years.
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Format: DVD
My, oh my...This is the direction that more filmmakers should take. I don't believe that I have ever been so impressed by the imagery of a film from a first-time director as this. Lodge Kerrigan sees angles, shots, and displays mood better than most experienced directors, bar none. Picking Peter Greene to play the lonely schizophreneic is a stroke of casting genius, and all the more amazing, given Greene's penchant for self-destructiveness. The movie is very disturbing, particularly if you have children, and I wouldn't hesitate to keep them out of the viewing room, but the attention to detail is truly jawdropping, given the minute budget. This film was made over the course of 2 years, and although Greene doesn't appear to age, Kerrigan's film shows a tremendously well thought out visual flair. Visually, it reminded me of some early David Lynch works, minus the strange pointlessness and perverse sexuality. Altogether, a wonderful first effort, and an amazing, although largely unseen, performance from Greene. If you can keep your eyes on the screen, you will be shocked and mesmerized.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Clean, Shaven will shake the audience as they follow a young schizophrenic man frantically attempting to find his adopted daughter. The young man is traumatized by serious hallucinations and severe paranoia that emotionally and socially shake his everyday life . As the audience is following the footsteps of the young man, it is next to impossible to avoid attributing some additional characteristics to his other bizarre behaviors. These attributions will influence the audience's perception of the young man and his behavior among other people. Clean, Shaven uses the psychological disorder of a young man as an engine to create a story with true realism that will, in the end, cause pondering.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
"clean shaven" is one of the most horrifyingly disturbing movies i've ever seen, and it is unbelievably depressing. i love insanity trip/art house/horror movies, but this movie was a little much even for me. i admired the movie enormously for the obvious value it has a red flag for how severely needy and intensely mentally ill people are simply unloved even by those who should love them most and how cold and unfeeling our society is towards them, but would not watch it again for twenty dollars. keep in mind, however, that if you're looking for art house' madness this ain't it, it's simply the real thing in sad, full, sickening color. this is not "fun" weird at all--this is just poignant and devastating filmmaking. the only thing i would criticize are the many questions left unanswered, such as who nicole's mother really was and how she died, how peter managed to even get out on the street, etc. but all in all this movie is one of the most powerful i've ever seen, and absolutely important. it almost made me want to cry, and movies never do that to me.
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Format: DVD
Clean, Shaven boasts a superb performance by Peter Greene, an incredibly tight script, wonderfully minimalist cinematography, and has some of the best, most memorable sound work this side of The Conversation.
(No less an authority than Roger Ebert named it one of his ten best films of 1994).
Kerrigan's debut(!) film... takes us straight inside the head of a recently released schizophrenic. I can't recall the last time a film took me so far into the mind of a character. It's a sad commentary on our society that the airbrushed, cleaned-up "A Beautiful Mind" is getting so much attention for its Hollywoodized portrayal of schizophrenia while few people have ever heard of this far better film. Not for the easily frightened, to be sure (the fingernail scene is with me still), but for those who still care about filmmaking as more than just mindless entertainment, it's here.
My only disappointment with the DVD is that we don't get commentaries from either Kerrigan or Greene, which would have been absolutely fascinating.
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