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John Patrick Amedori,
In a big city downtown we meet Emma and Jay, two young 20 something lovers buying drugs and then watch as they waste the rest of the day away, oblivious to everything around them. As always, the drugs and cash quickly run out and alternative sources of income need to be found. They arrange to put on a sex show for a sleaze bag who pays them a large amount of cash, but the exploitive nature of the act leaves them cold and resentful. Jay swears to Emma that they'll never do that again. Jay devises a plan to rob a convenience store and the two carry it out. It all seems so easy and they are turned on by both the easy cash and by the thrill of the heist. Emma and Jay figure they can make a living pulling armed robberies like Bonnie and Clyde and never be without drugs again. They stick to their usual routines and bars and pubs, so that people don't become suspicious of their new found cash. When they do treat themselves to a night out at a very expensive restaurant the night ends in ...
Clumsy attempt at bleak realism, never goes beyond cheap thrills.
There's a reasonable argument to say that this film exploits, or profits from merely the dramatisation of quite a serious social problem. And for the director to say he isn't in it for the entertainment made me angry. The film presents no commentary, or shows no examples of either the source of these problems, or their solution. But merely parades the junky sickness in a drug-fuelled circus of robbery and sex.
I thought the art of film was more than a fly on the wall approach, but was supposed to go further - reveal hidden meaning, or make connections between things, or at the very least be grounded in a unique style? I didn't see any of this in Em 4 Jay.
Fair enough not to be interested in middle class stories, and to explore instead a bleak world where everything is a lost cause... But does bleakness rule without question because that's just the way the director wants it? Or is he neglecting an important aspect of all these tragic contemporary tales.. that of positive energy meeting negative. Of the sister being given more than FIVE minutes over a coffee. Sorry, not going to happen in real life. An older sister would not give up that easy.
And it was unrealistic that this girl, who cried so much and felt so nervous around her sister, could dismiss her boyfriend's murder spree with little more than annoyance, but get so worked up when he sold the pills. It took it too far into clumsy fiction - she wasn't that far gone.
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