It's not so much that SUR- VEILLANCE is one of the sickest films I've ever seen. I'm an adult, I can handle sick. Nor is the problem that the movie is death-affirming -- more specifically, it affirms the joy of murder -- rather than life-affirming. We just lived through the . Positive affirmation? Come on now.
The real deal-breaker is this: The movie's writer/director Jennifer Lynch (shown right, of Boxing Helena infamy) and her co-writer Kent Harper (who does double-duty, acting in one of the key roles, as a cop, below) are such unknowing filmmakers that they tip their hand from nearly the very beginning, with the first scene after the opening credits! Consequently, the audience has to be either very young or very dumb not to be able to figure out almost immediately what is going on here.
|The film's cast is uniformly good at being bad. Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond (shown above) are the leads, but because this is an ensemble film, all of the actors prove important, and I must say that Ms Lynch coaxes arresting performances from all. Even the one over-the-top performance that gives the game away does not reflect bad acting but rather a misjudgment on the part of the actor, the director, or both. (To say more would give away the store.) Among the fine cast are Pell James (shown above), Mac Miller, Cheri Oteri, the indispensable Caroline Aaron, and a terrific child actor Ryan Simpkins (shown below, who played the kidnapped girl in : now, there's an ugly film that manages to earn its darkness via theme, content and execution).|
|In the press kit for her movie, Ms Lynch talks a lot about lies and the like -- and how they figure into her characters and her film. Oddly enough, the press kit seems just as full of prevarication, whether willful or simply reflecting the confusion in Ms Lynch's mind, I'm not certain. But we get comments about "listening to the child inside," how each character "is a liar and each holds the truth," and -- most pompously -- comparisons to Kurosawa's Rashômon. My favorite is this: "Little Stephanie (shown above) has the eyes and soul of a child." Hello: She is a child, so she probably has the kidney and liver of one, too.|
Most tellingly, Ms Lynch mentions that her father (film director David Lynch) called her one night to tell her that she simply could not use her proposed ending for the film - which she did. She called it dark, he told her it was evil. The filmmaker evidently does not understand the difference between the two. I don't think you'll have the same problem.
Surveillance, distributed by Magnet Releasing opens this Friday, June 26, in both New York City (at the Cinema Village) and Los Angeles (at the Nuart). July will see an expansion into other cities. Here in NYC, the film has also been available On-Demand for some time now. Consult your local TV-reception source to determine how to "demand" it in your area.