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THE MAN WHOSE MIND EXPLODED
East End, BFI Flare, Brighton, Cambridge, Cork, Revelation
The filmmaker befriends an eccentric gay man who has lost the ability to retain his memory.
Drako Zarharzar is an affable, rotund gay man with a ridiculous, Daliesque moustache, tattoos, and piercings, who is prone to public nudity and always surprised by the filmmaker showing up to interview him, given his memory issues. He has crammed his apartment with all sorts of pornography, creating a floor-to-ceiling mural of penises, remembers some memories at times, and likes to play with his nipples – he has cut holes in his shirt to give him easy access. While Amies’ film is framed by Drako’s apartment being cleaned out after his death, its focus is the relationship between the filmmaker and his subject over the preceding four years. This includes an awkward meeting with Drako’s sister and the recounting of the accident that eventually cost him his memory – but mostly it’s about their friendship, and the challenges his memory posed to making connections with people. Drako is an intriguing subject, but the film, though at times poignant and generally suprisingly upbeat, fails to make the most of his uniqueness, instead emphasizing the same points over and over again. While this may perhaps be intended as an echo of the repetitive experiences Drako goes through due to his anterograde amnesia, it grows somewhat tiresome before too long.