Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Surveillance (2008)

To be disappointed in Jennifer Lynch's film, "Surveillance," which I just saw on DVD, would mean that I actually had high expectations in the first place. Since I had none (given some of the critical responses I've read), I was not disappointed. For a film that tries its hardest to be disturbing and shocking and brutal, it ended up being fairly affectless I thought. It's a mess, and not in a good way. It's got great actors, but the performances are all twitches and eccentricities (and not in a good way). The plot is predictable, the images gruesome in a fairly banal way (which is precisely the way death and pain and gore and brutality should NOT be represented, IMHO) or so studied that one finds oneself looking at it saying, "oh, I see, that's supposed to be creepy the way he leans in to the camera that way." Comparisons with her father's work are perhaps not fair, but the film keeps referring to her father's work and trying to mine the same territory. Even if I had not known she was David Lynch's daughter I would have found myself saying, "Wow. David Lynch did that so much better, and on broadcast TV to boot!"

What I *am* disappointed about concerned the film is that it's really not about surveillance. Yes, there is a conceit that witnesses in three separate rooms recount their stories while being filmed by Bill Pullman (who supposedly is closely attending to all three people talking at once), but nothing is really made of it. It's not really even a device. The only bit that is really about surveillance is the realization that the little girl is the real surveillor, who watches and understands much more than everyone else.

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