Fiona McDonald “Breathe”

1999-fiona-mcdonald-breatheSet in a spotless suburban home of the 1950s, Fiona plays a frustrated housewife – and that’s a Betty Draper level of frustration.

The problem is her husband (played by Ian Hughes, who we’ve previously seen in a Greg Johnson video and a Bike video that was also directed by Jonathan King). He just doesn’t notice her. Fiona brings him his dinner (meat and three veg) and she’s perfectly dressed – elegant hair, a fine ladysuit and pearls.

Husband continues to be uninterested in Fiona even as she drapes herself over him as he watches telly, sensually writhes on the bed as he trims his nose hairs, snuggles up next to him as he reads his Adventure Annual in bed, and erotically plays with an ice cube as he practises his golf swing. What’s a girl gotta do to get a little affection?

But in the end, she can’t take it any more. A leg of lamb, previously destined for the oven, gets a new use… as a murder weapon. And this neatly suggests the dark Roald Dahl short story “Lamb to the Slaughter”, which adds a perfect conclusion to the saga.

A few times there’s black and white footage of Fiona in the present day, a reminder that actually she’s not a frustrated housewife; she’s a singer. But to me it feels like the fun that Fiona has playing the frustrated housewife – especially her hilarious efforts at bedroom seduction – reveal more about her than any moody black and white footage could.

Best bit: A man, a women, an Adventure Annual – there’s only room for two.

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the man-tiger and friends.

One thought on “Fiona McDonald “Breathe””

  1. Thanks! One of my favourite videos I made, and one of the nicest day’s filmmaking I ever had in my life. Ian Hughes, of course, masterful as the deadpan dweeb. Agree about not needing to cut away to sultry Fiona …

    Trivia: we shot a run away with the milkman ending in case killing ending was ‘too much’. But of course we didn’t need it.

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