She’s Got an Atomic Bomb is a hilarious, vivid, kitschy little 20-plus-minute trip of a film. It deals with serious issues, but leaves preachy ideology at home. Amid the film’s bright-green mohawked characters, Brooklyn resident extras and cartoonish segues, there is a meaty message – just one that’s deep-fried in comedy. It comes through in a style best described as John Waters drunk on punk and lost in Brooklyn.
As someone who grew up in the vicinity of a sewage treatment plant (man, those things reek), I empathize with the rage expressed toward it by the film’s anti-hero, Truffi: “I’m a high-profile assassin in a world of trust-fund bunny rabbits!”
She is accused of trying to blow up a treatment plant in Sheepshead Bay that happened to survive the explosion. Whether she is actually guilty of the initial crime or not is unclear, but she’s full of resentment and out to finish the job with a homemade atomic bomb obtained through the post-Soviet, post-Middle-Eastern, post-modern underworld. If this sounds far-fetched, well, it is. But rumor has it that southern Brooklyn is a suspected location of some of the fourteen missing Soviet nukes.
Filmmaker Cihan Kaan made the entirely self-financed flick for under $5,000 with the help of an underpaid but dedicated cast and crew. Although the film’s proud papa says he wrote the script in 1994, production did not commence until after the fall of the twin towers. She’s Got an Atomic Bomb gets put through this filter – that it’s a great post-9/11 film,” says Kaan. “Well, what if I made the film in ‘94? Would it be a great pre-9/11 film that resonates in the post-9/11 world? I want to focus on the culture of fear – people are scared. I want to focus on issues, but the film is undeniably a comedy that deals with something very serious. It’s got punks, mobsters, squatters, thieves, a graveyard-shift manager at a sewage treatment plant – everything is positioned under the street, so to speak.”
When asked about the movie’s target audience, Cihan replied, “I made it for everyone. Suburban kids and New Yorkers. I wanted the mainstream to be able to digest certain things and New Yorkers to be able to digest certain things. The cinematic grammar had to be accessible and open. Otherwise nobody gets it – the message or the joke.”