Alex Cox has for a few decades remained one of my favorite directors. He has the singular distinction of directing one of my favorite films (Repo Man), and one of my most hated films (Walker). I can look at his works such as Repo Man, Sid & Nancy, and Three Businessmen with such fondness, yet my experience with Walker was so loathsome that I am immediately gun-shy of watching any Alex Cox film I haven’t seen. I have yet to be burned that second time, and much of his post-Walker films have been quite fantastic, with Revenger’s Tragedy and Three Businessmen as two examples.
So it comes to Repo Chick. I became aware of the project roughly a decade ago, Alex Cox had announced he was going to be making a film completely in front of a green screen and the initial images were jarringly dreadful. It makes sense now that every major film is basically shot in front of a green screen, but the choices of miniatures and crude animated backdrops made me quite hesitant. My wife was the one that pointed out that it looked like something from a “Barbie Girl” music video. I’ve had a copy of this for a while, but my experience with Walker kept me away from it. When Alex is at his best, he walks a tightrope between the restrained and the self indulgent. When he swings too far into self indulgent territory you end up with a mess. While I am deeply fond of movies like Straight to Hell and Death and the Compass, they also have deep flaws as well.
It’s interesting that Cox had decided to touch upon the Repo theme again. Repo Chick takes place in a dystopian future where a new cold war has emerged the economy has collapsed after a mortgage crisis, leaving only repossessers as a viable business model. This film’s copyright date is 2009, so we’re looking at a recession era satire. It makes sense, one of the major tropes Cox deploys in his films are themes of classism and elitism, and that very much happens in Repo Chick.
According to AlexCoxFilms.com
IS IT A SEQUEL TO REPO MAN?
Not at all! It is the stand-alone story of a rich young woman who is unaware that she and everyone she knows are HO-scale plastic model railroad characters.
So it is evident Alex is swinging into self-indulgent territory. I am happy to say, however, that Walker still remains his worst film. The film is about a rich, privileged white girl named Pixxi (Jaclyn Jonet) who is disinherited from her filthy rich family and is forced to find a job. After her car is repossessed, she somehow manages to get a job as a repo girl. It turns out that she is really good at it, perhaps too good. The film goes full steam ahead as she decides to repossess a mythic antique train, but the contents of the train are not what they seem.
This movie is a mess, there is no way to deny it. Thankfully it is also funny, if not forced at times. To be honest, this may be one of the more distracting films I have seen in recent memory. The production decisions are so strange that at times the characters may as well be speaking in tongues because I find it hard to pay attention enough. As unusual as it is, it is very much an Alex Cox film (for better or worse). In a way, I’m actually looking forward to revisit it. The performances are strong with the absurd material. Jaclyn Jonet is a revelation and embodies this millennial-socialite-turned-blue-collar character perfectly. It also features Alex Cox alumni Miguel Sandoval and Zander Schloss (Circle Jerks). The film is rounded out by appearances by Karen Black, Rosanna Arquette, Robert Bertrand (Star Trek: Voyager) and many more. The elements and performances are good enough that I am happy to have seen it. Repo Chick is an entertaining fuck up and that’s good enough for me.