A few minutes into Terry Gilliam's new film Tideland, a nine-year-old girl cooks some heroin for her dad, who is sitting expectantly in an armchair. "Daddy's going on a vacation," he explains, hunting a vein for the needle.
As he blisses out, his daughter helpfully takes the lighted cigarette from his hands and stubs it out in the ashtray. Gilliam likes this scene so much that he repeats it as if to underscore how much daddy is addicted to figurative vacations and how his daughter's domestic chores will never be over until daddy ODs.
Gilliam describes the film as Alice in Wonderland meets Psycho, which is a nice line for the billboards. It's also a fair description of Tideland's dance between childhood innocence and the degrading tawdriness of adult desire.
Like Lewis Carroll's novel, it features a little girl plummeting through a rabbit hole into an intensely imagined fantasy world; like Hitchcock's film, it includes footage of a bewigged parental corpse in a chair (an image that Gilliam lingers over longer than Hitchcock would have dared). But the line misses Gilliam's insistence that this is the most tender film he has ever made.
Opens October 6 in the USA and Canada. Bring it on, Terry, bring it on...