A quiet, unassuming man begins to change in a major way as a result of meeting a new, art-student girlfriend, and his friends are unsettled by the transformation.A quiet, unassuming man begins to change in a major way as a result of meeting a new, art-student girlfriend, and his friends are unsettled by the transformation.A quiet, unassuming man begins to change in a major way as a result of meeting a new, art-student girlfriend, and his friends are unsettled by the transformation.
This movie doesn't rub nerves raw and then apply rubbing alcohol; it drills holes straight into the viewer's skull and pours in battery acid. The trouble with this approach is that the viewer is lobotomized almost instantly, unless the viewer is old enough and crusty enough to have seen the kinds of tricks that Hollywood uses to goad us into strong reactions. There's a scene where the anti-protagonist tells the people attending the unveiling of her latest art project that she knows some people will have strongly negative reactions to her work. "Diversity is good," she says in one of the only lines in the movie where her delivery registers just slightly above the robotic, "just don't be apathetic."
That's what the makers of this movie believe in. Love it or hate it, just please please pretty please don't yawn during the movie.
Well, I yawned.
This movie is the cinematic equivalent of every novel Ayn Rand ever wrote, in the sense that its "story" is really a manifesto, and it shows. Sure, if you're young and still intellectually a blank slate, but hungry for ideas, it can provide the starting point for vigorous debates. I suppose. For those of us who don't view the people around us as bugs in a collection, however (probably because we've already had our turns at being treated as a bug in a collection), this movie is just more pseudo-intellectual bile-venting all dressed up as serious, grown-up thinking. Consider such profound observations as, "Cute guys always develop a potty-mouth sooner or later; they think it makes them more adorable." Does this sound like Hegel to you? Or just a cheap cliché?
I wasn't outraged or shocked or horrified or invigorated or captivated or astonished or anything else by this movie, any more than I am by some modern art exhibit that consists of an empty room with flashing lights, or the feces of an artist in a tin, or a severed penis in a jar. No: Just bored. I've seen it before. Five or six years down the road, someone else will come up with essentially the same idea, but they'll have to twist the knife just a bit harder to try to get a reaction from an ever-more jaded audience.
Maybe this time the artist will kill her ersatz boyfriend. In the movie after that, she can cook and eat him. And in the one after that, she'll announce that the hors d'ouevres that her guests are nibbling are none other than the hapless Addam. Each will feature the same huge banner that reads, "Moralists have no place in an art gallery" (remember to make the letters EXTRA BIG like a Wal-Mart banner) and the same pale, Botoxesque, expressionless, emotionless "artiste" that the movie is lauding and skewering at the same time.
- Aug 1, 2004