The outer reaches of Nicolas Roeg’s cinematic cosmos are arrived at in Insignificance, the director’s deliriously metaphysical screen adaptation of Terry Johnson’s satirical play.
“An ambitious, apocalyptic farce that’s always entertaining … perfectly and comically logical.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times
A kaleidoscopic rumination on fame, history, Hiroshima, and the laws of the universe, this cosmic comedy revolves around four unnamed celebrities — but really, Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Marilyn Monroe (Theresa Russell), Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey), and Joseph McCarthy (Tony Curtis) — who converge on a hot and steamy summer night in a Manhattan hotel room circa 1954. With a combination of whimsy and dread, Roeg creates a fun-house-mirror image of fifties America in order to reflect on the nature of celebrity and lingering Cold War nuclear nightmares. As is often the case in a Roeg film, space and time are detonated in a fireworks display of radical, parallel editing that smashes past, present, and future tenses together. A delirious, intelligent comedy/drama, Insignificance features magnetic performances by its four leads (Theresa Russell’s breathy, Marilyn Monroe-esque explanation of the theory of relativity, using a flashlight and other props, to a delighted Albert Einstein, remains an unforgettable movie moment), and an audacious finale that points toward an apocalyptic future. (Dir. by Nicolas Roeg, 1985, UK, 109 mins., Rated R)