Monday, April 12, 2010

where does she hide it inside of her, that keeps her peace most every day, and won’t disappear, my hairs turning grey

One of my most favorite fashionable film characters is Louise Vargo, portrayed by Tricia Vessey, in the Jim Jarmusch samurai mobster flick Ghost Dog. The film stars a young Forest Whitaker, an anonymous assassin who refers to himself as Ghost Dog, that is employed by a Jersey City mob. He follows the ancient samurai creed Hagakure, and takes care of pidgeons. When Ghost Dog is hired to kill a member of the mob known to be sleeping with Louise, the daughter of mafia leader Vargo, problems arise. She accidentally witnesses the assassination, and the mob decides that Ghost Dog must be killed before their involvement in the murder is uncovered. In the narrative, little is actually seen of Louise, but it is her presence that is catalyst for the entire story. She gives Ghost Dog a copy of Rashomon and Other Stories, which makes several important appearances throughout the film.
Style-wise, Louise seems to model herself after a retro Hollywood celebrity. It is important that the first scene we see her in, she is watching a Betty Boop cartoon. Not unlike Miss Boop, Louise styles her jet black hair in a short, chin-length bob, and wears rather retro clothing. Her eyes are saucers ringed with shadows underneath and her skin is very pale, giving her the appearance of a sleep-deprived child. She lounges around her lover's bedroom in a scarlet nightgown and marabou heels, but is equally as comfortable in an Adidas tracksuit and flip-flops if ever the need to go into hiding in the country should arise. Her final appearance in the film makes her appear as cool and calculated as a Hitchcock heroine. In her classic tweed suit with white flower pin, a strand of pearls, and her dark sunglasses masking her face, her emotions are unreadable.