Mafu Cage (1978)

AKA My Sister My Love

Director: Karen Arthur Starring: Lee Grant, Crole Kane, Will Geer, James Olson, Budar. USA. 1h 42m
Éric Westphal (play “Toi et les nuages”)

Ever so often, a film is made that’s so unique, strange and plain batshitcrazy that it sets itself apart from all the rest and nothing could be as true as this masterpiece from a seasoned director Karen Arthur. Starring two gorgeous American actresses Carol Kane and Lee Grant in their prime, set in a romantic home and alongside a primate or two it’s strange that the unspoken realisations are the key to the stroy when the visuals are so strong. Freud would stay up all night in cold sweats trying to define what’s going on are so very different it’s hard to define or digest, it is just simply great and very unsettling and utterly beautiful to behold.

But, in the end, the movie is a series of unnerving interactions, and this is just the top of the iceberg. This dubious psychosexual film presents some of cinema’s least talked-about but most fascinating and unsettling characters. Cissy’s mania is easy to overlook because she’s so cute and adorable, but with her strange lust for her sister and strange tribal desires, I believe she’d keep Fredde up at night questioning all the theories of childhood development and the human condition, despite the fact that she’s a complete delight to behold.

Ellen lives with two animals. One of them is her sister!

The world that Arthur has created for the sexua; femme fetal showdown is incredly old worldly, the home that the sistes inherited is filled with (African) artefacts most donated by local galleries and museums. It’s rich and lavish, filled with romantic accents and the sisters’ freelove lifestyles piques the hedonistic atmosphere and Carole’s wild pre raphaelite appearance is so totally ideal for her character, Cissy. A young woman who is terrifying, beautiful, playful and simultaneously just plain terrifying. Her passions are Mafu’s which is her name for monkeys, she keeps them in a proposed built caged area in the home, but the mafu’s don’t last long with Cissy’s temper and she often beats them to death.. What would Freud say?

A terrifying love story.

Things start to fall apart after Cissy kills an ortagnue and her sister falls in love with a new guy in her life, and the result is a steady descent into a frustrated and emotionally charged Cissy who forces everyone into her primal lifestyle and ideas.

She’d rather be back in Africa running naked.

-Ellen –

With Mafu Cage, there are a lot of metaphors and connotations. Is it a war of the sexes, or a challenge to the ideas of original sin in Eden? Regardless of how you interpret the intriguing characters and bizarre situations, you’ll undoubtedly agree that the film is absolutely magnificent from start to finish.


Rating: 8/10

Related: Shock (1979).
Lists: Ape Films Spotlight: Lee Grant, Carol Kane



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