by Ian Pugh Existing in a disturbing crevice between live-action and animation, children's and adult entertainment, pop and exploitation, Anders Morgenthaler's animated opus Princess understands the darkest impulses that drive holier-than-thou crusades. With his porn-queen sister (Stine Fischer Christensen) dead and her sexually-abused daughter Mia (Mira Hilli Møller Hallund) now in his care, missionary priest August (Thure Lindhardt) goes on a one-man war against the sex industry, starting things off by beating the shit out of a random john and planning a firebombing campaign against video-rental joints. It all reeks of catharsis for the moral majority as a man, righteous in his anger and desire for revenge, metes out justice against the scum of the earth. But as August breaks the arm of a sexually aggressive little boy and invites young Mia to pound one thug's crotch into powder with a crowbar, the exhilaration dies and we are forced to contemplate our own destructive itch. (File it alongside Tony Scott's Déjà Vu as a wish-fulfillment fantasy constantly haunted by reality.) Shortly before having his ear forcibly removed, another man comments that August's sister was a small piece in a much larger puzzle; similarly, August's quest can only exist in an infinitesimally small scope: there are too many people to kill and there's too much smut to burn to fully clean up the streets, and it will never erase the fact of any of it. (Furthermore, there's a strong indication that not everyone implicated in this sleazy world deserves to die.) Princess is a film rife with visual and thematic contradictions--with lumpy, Klasky-Czupo-esque characters often placed against lush, Miyazakian backgrounds (while taking irony-free sentimental breaks between murderous rampages) and grainy live-action VHS presentations occasionally popping in to fill in a few narrative gaps. It can only be seen as a means to search every corner, every possibility available to this world of ours--the eternal, ultimately futile attempt to find peace of mind when both the mind and the world are irrevocably tainted.