‘Antibirth,’ Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny’s Sundance Reunion
by Brooke Barnes
PARK CITY, Utah — There was a time when Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny personified the Sundance circus. It was 2003, and the festival was becoming more of a celebrity party zone than a film showcase. The film that brought the two gregarious actresses to Sundance that year was even called “Party Monster.”
Now, returning to the festival with multiple films after a 12-year absence, Ms. Lyonne and Ms. Sevigny are no longer the riotous newcomers. And in some ways that means they are once again — as ever — in tune with the scene: calmer, more collected.
Sundance turned 32 this year, and Paris Hilton has not been spotted, the pop-up nightclubs have diminished and the so-called “swag suites” (free stuff for celebrities) are largely a thing of the past. Out: hot-tubbing until dawn. In: actually watching films.
Directed by Danny Perez and counting Ms. Lyonne as a producer, “Antibirth” finds Ms. Lyonne as a druggie mobile-home dweller named Lou, whose body is infected with something otherworldly. Ms. Sevigny plays Lou’s debauched friend. The film, which had its premiere here on Monday night, aims for cult horror territory.
The two actresses spoke about why they signed on. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Q. This movie is like a meth fever dream. I mean, there is a scene where Lou sits on the floor swigging vodka while picking pus out of her foot with a kitchen knife.
Sevigny: Danny wants to shake up the system, wants things to be unclear and chaotic. He wants to make people uncomfortable.
I think he succeeded.
Lyonne: Look, we’ve been around for a long time, and at some point you want to go on a different ride. Artistically. We’ve both been able to do these television shows that are super-pedigreed, me with “Orange Is the New Black” and Chlo-mo with “Big Love.” And then it’s natural — or it is to us — to want a different kind of artistic experience.
Sevigny: Something with reckless abandon.
Lyonne: We have a soul-raving natural instinct for wilding. And I don’t mean that in a traditional way. I don’t think either of us would ever be caught dead in Ibiza.
I’d watch that horror movie. “Chloe and Natasha: On the Loose in Ibiza.”
Lyonne: I watched Divine in “Female Trouble” recently, and she’s such a blast in that movie. Sometimes it seems like there’s now this style of movie and acting where it’s the opposite — like, it’s so subtle that you might want to take a nap.
Sevigny: It’s the same thing in fashion. Everything seems like it has to be in Really Good Taste now. Whatever happened to having fun? There’s a wash of that over the culture.
Lyonne: We had fun with “Antibirth” because the tone is quite intentionally off kilter. Like, if Rodney Dangerfield instead of Isabelle Adjani was the star of “Possession.” Or if it was Joe Pesci instead of Catherine Deneuve in “Repulsion.” Chlo-mo! Give me another one!
Sevigny: Fran Drescher instead of Tim Robbins in “Jacob’s Ladder.”
© New York Times 2016