You'd think I'd like a movie about leftist eco-terrorist freegans who call themselves "The East" and pour buckets of crude oil down the pristine hallways of soul-less, WASP-nest East Hampton. Lord knows there was plenty of DC chino bashing (a favorite sport of this inveterate Baltimoron), a beautiful "Colby doppelganger" Jesus-clone hippy leader to fall in love with, MULTIPLE gorgeous "Boys with Beards" to drool over and even a couple of gratuitous male ass-shots to tip the scales. I would pretty much fuck female lead Brit Marling in her Birkenstocks, deep in the woods, any day of the week. I don't care how gay I am and how creepy that sounds.
What's not to like?
. . . And I did like it, especially the genuinely erotic "consensual bathing" scene. Pulling off that kind of PC authenticity believably and truly making it hot is no easy task, especially given the predilection for power/domination themes prevalent in so much of our collective erotic imaginary, i.e. porn. If anything, you should see the movie for this scene alone.
I did like the film. . . until the end, which came predictably enough, even despite my own magical, memory-erasing "green" inspiration. All of my hopes for "brilliance" fell apart.
Do you know the type of movie you really hope is smarter than it lets on? For example: was that unintentional camp you just saw on screen? A flash of meta-brilliance? Or the sad mark of a minor slip-up? The film has all the potential to be a masterpiece. It's there. But can they pull it off? Or will it end up simply a bad joke told by filmmakers you'd really like to give more credit than they're due. Word to the wise: don't ever take for granted something as "metaphor" that's simply bad narrative. When the mystery-thriller tropes run headlong into the aesthetic deadzone of uneasy laughter (always subconsciously accompanied by "did they mean to do that?") you know you're headed in the wrong direction, no matter how much you'd like to re-write the filmmakers' intention for the better.
Why the hell exactly does the plucky, stick-in-the-mud, amoral liberal with an innate sense for dead center in every ethical quandary ALWAYS have to beat the loveable, but wrongheaded leftists with more heart than common-sense? I get it. We all get it. American liberalism trumps all. Yes, most movies function to reaffirm normative expectations for the masses, but good film doesn't have to. The state of the world is enough to drive anyone, of almost any ideological stripe, to madness. If the ecological devastation of consumer capitalism doesn't turn your stomach, it should at least make you question the prospects for fun in a future on a warming planet. Can't we have at least one fully-formed film that gives up permission to indulge in the sheer joy of catharsis without a liberal morality-tale tacked to the conclusion? Where's the Left's revenge fantasy? . . . Besides 1917 of course. Or is that just the "mistake" of hubris and radical paranoia we self-flagellating know-it-alls constantly need to remind us of our own precocious will-to-failure?
If anything, this film, with so much promise and little delivery, makes me long for an old-fashioned Soviet chin-stroker-- straight from the old east. Solaris, where art thou?