Cage indulges in lunacy in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Tragic and absurdist, this film travels through drugs, violence, sex, gangsters and hallucinations.

The sight of a road accident in which a car flipped over a jaywalking alligator sets the tragic/absurdist tone of Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. It’s a fascinating cinematic image, and Herzog’s darkly funny spin on police procedural dramas is full of these moments of loosely connected dementia. At its centre is Nicolas Cage, indulging his lunacy the most freely since Wild at Heart. As Lt. Terence McDonagh, Cage indulges in bad behaviour (the only connections to Abel Ferrara’s 1992 Bad Lieutenant are the title and certain themes). Despite a restless dedication to his work, McDonagh goes about it through gambling, an endless supply of drugs, dropping a teenager’s charges in return for sex, bonding with gangsters (and then improperly using the word “’sup” a lot) and parking in a tow-away zone in front of his hooker girlfriend’s apartment. Katrina-decimated New Orleans becomes a character itself---a world’s end backdrop of McDonagh’s hallucination of addiction and excess.

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