Uniformly excellent performances keep this destabilizing tale ticking, yet one can't help wishing Hollywood had combined this cast and these timely themes with a little bit of imagination to come up with something fresh.
Cadigan is honest enough to leave in a disturbing scene in which he talks about the "violent imagery" in his head and fantasizes about using a kitchen knife on his mother, before breaking down in tears. It's raw stuff.
Stevens has a keen sense of the absurd, but the whole thing is too forced - and his use of "rotomation" (last used in Richard Linklater's "Waking Life") to give a Timothy Leary-swirl to key dramatic moments winds up looking incongruous.
The trouble with authenticity in a punk rock film is that it comes off as amateurish, and while "Dolls" has a feverish energy -- and some good songs -- it suffers from crude performances and a trite rise-and-fall plot.