Wednesday, July 2, 2014

FILM REVIEW: Proxy (2013)


Think you're having a bad day? Check out the first 20 minutes of Proxy  and then let me know if your bad day stacks up.

Proxy  is the latest effort by writer/director Zach Parker. It is a film that starts off in, perhaps, the most dreadfully beautiful way I've ever seen. I say dreadfully beautiful...because the first third of the film is just that...thanks, in part, to the lovely lenswork of DP Jim Timperman. While the depressing narrative is steeped in pure desolate darkness, the look of the film keeps you from going anywhere. Especially after that fucked up opening.

In a departure from my regular norm, I'm gonna talk a little bit about some elements of the film which might seem spoilery. But, I feel like the only way to review Proxy  is to examine some of the stronger bits that it has going for it...in which to better explain why I was ultimately disappointed with the outcome. So, if you want to go into this film cold...best to just leave this review now and then...maybe come back after for some deep discussions and some cheese whiz.


The film begins in the office of a OB/GYN as Esther Woodhouse (the captivating Alexia Rasmussen) is checking up on her little bundle of joy inside of her. She appears to be pretty far along and the shuddering kind of begins at this point because you get a sense that something bad is going to happen. And it does. Shortly after she leaves the OB/GYN Esther is brutally attacked and ends up losing everything. Not that she really had anything to begin with. She's got no family, no contacts, no nothing. Double negatives never cease to amuse me...and I guess that's kinda the reason that I was drawn to Proxy. The first half hour really feels like a study in how much the soul can truly tolerate...and my depraved little soul wanted more of it. I mean...everything goes bad for poor Esther...and she just takes it all like a champ. I think I'd be eating a bag of razorblades on my second day of being Esther. Yet...her ability to go on is oddly inspirational.

Alexia Rasmussen is perfect as Esther. Think Angela Bettis in May. Awkward, weirdly magnetic...and you just feel bad for the girl when everything goes south. Then, when she starts having gangbangs in public restrooms...you are completely jarred...and almost disgusted. It's magical. Hell...just wait until the awesome Kristina Klebe shows up as Anika with the strap-on. Your mind quickly shifts from compassion to utter horror when you begin to piece everything together. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.


Because of Esther's series of unfortunate events, she decides to attend a support group meeting for those who have lost loved ones. It is here where she meets the other crucial element of the film in the form of Melanie Michaels (Alexa Havins), who reveals that she has lost her son and husband in a tragic car accident. The two begin an interesting sort of odd friendship teetering that ever-present line between sensitive buddy flick and full-on psychotic girl-on-girl action. The film begins to feel more like a yearning for human emotions by people that have a hard time connecting with anything emotional. Esther latches on to her new buddy and starts feeling...something. You get a sense that the entire film is submerged in some kind of emotional depth whetting your excitement for what's to come. Only...things never get to that magical place in your imagination.

Proxy  takes a sharp left once Joe Swanberg shows up as Melanie's husband, Patrick. I mean...sure there's some psychological twists to be had at the reveal of Melanie's living, healthy family. Where things sort of go off the rails a bit are when the third act turns into some kind of weird revenge flick at the emotional crossroads of everyone involved. I mean...it's all well-acted and nicely helmed....but, it feels more like a disappointment when compared to what was unfolding in your head. Or...at least my head. I felt like the film was to be something much more poignant and horrific...than what it turned into. It starts off different from your usual cinema...but, then it turns into something much more familiar. Unfortunately, not awesome familiar. Which sucks because I wanted to praise this film from the high heavens once I saw that stunning trailer.

In the end...Proxy  is a competent little indie film full of some truly memorable stuff that almost makes up for the not so memorable stuff. It's a powerful film chock full of weak elements that ultimately keep the film from being what it should have been...great.



Thanks for reading,

bryan.




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