Chasing Robert Barker is a very well thought, gripping, and original drama/thriller It's originality lies on the fact it focuses on a character that has never been central piece to any film, the paparazzi photographer. I would dare to say it might establish a new genre, the "paparazzi thriller". This character that we all know about, but know so little of.
The film follows Dave, a dispirited photographer in London that starts doing Paparazzi work as a last resort. He roams around at night looking for pictures and, one day, manages to snap a famous movie actor as he leaves a restaurant with a young woman. With the success of the pictures, his boss, a slippery and charming tabloid journalist played brilliantly by Patrick Baladi, pressures him to stay in the case and get more pictures of the couple. As the chase carries on we understand what brought Dave to that position, at the same time as the film exposes how the paparazzi world operates: Bouncers, prostitutes, tabloid journalists, celebrities...
While the film draws strong elements from thrillers, keeping you absorbed into the narrative, the director cleverly set up this scenario against a real event, the phone hacking scandal in Britain. If you have read Hack Attack from Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist that helped to uncover the scandal and revealed the relationships of tabloid newspapers and politicians, private investigators, the police, and other shadowy figures, you will see that Chasing Robert Barker, although not focused on this, does bring some of these characters into the narrative, putting them on the way of the protagonist. A more attentive viewer will also notice references to the phone hacking on radio chatter and on some background TV.
I saw the film together with a friend that was involved in its funding on Kickstarter, and have to say I wasn't expecting much. But I was quite pleasantly surprised. The script is gripping, the actors are brilliant, music and cinematography are very good. The film does have some flaws, but overall I found it captivating, insightful and provocative. Surely worth the watch.
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