Friday, September 9, 2016

BB Movie Review - Cinema Bluster

BB - Official Stills
"C.J. Wallis has crafted a strong independent thriller worth your time, as it balances the lines of public and private, lurid and perverse, love and obsession. This world is definitely one you will not be comfortable in"

BB Film Review: A Lurid Tale Of Online Persona

We live in a connected world, where with the single touch of a button or swipe of a screen we are immediately present in the life of another. The majority of the time, this is simply maintaining a connection with friends and family, however, in other instances, it serves more as a social contract between strangers, where each party has a mutual understanding of trust in the exchange of goods and services. And in the case of BB, the full-length feature debut of C.J. Wallis, we are given a glimpse into the prurient life of a cam girl, stripping for anonymous strangers, and the inherent dangers of presenting one’s self to the masses.

Jennifer Mae plays Leah Lamont, a young woman who becomes a webcam model in order to raise enough money to send her girlfriend Alina (Victoria Fox) back to Romania to visit her family. She quickly establishes her online persona of Candy Cummings and develops a strong and loyal fanbase. One of those fans is HornyHal, played by Kristian Hanson, an Iraq vet who develops an unhealthy fixation on Candy, and is convinced they are meant to be together. As Leah finds herself alone and missing Alina, she immerses herself in her work and thrives on the excesses of drugs and alcohol. All the while, Hal becomes more obsessed with Leah through the avatar of Candy–he believes he is in love with a woman but is only aware of a character, a facsimile of reality. Over time, his obsession develops into a more threatening state as he begins to stalk her both physically and online, using spyware to gain access to her cameras; all while planning his big move.

BB was filmed with a two-person crew on a very modest budget, financed by Wallis himself. He also chose to use non-actors in an attempt to gain authenticity for the film, both in keeping with the independent spirit of filmmaking, as well as gaining honest portrayals of the characters within the film. Kristian Hanson does a fantastic job as Hal, balancing the fine line of portraying a sad, almost sympathetic character, while maintaining an undercurrent of anger and violence. His entitled delusions go from the simple notion that he and Candy will be together, to one born of a personal determination to make it happen, whether she wants it to or not. Jennifer Mae also does a fine job as Leah/Candy, but unfortunately seems to have less proverbial meat to chew off the bone. More often than not, she is shown drinking, smoking or having far-too-similar conversations with her fans during her strip shows. However, when Mae is given the opportunity, she nails it. Near the end of the film, Leah is frazzled, almost lost in the mania of paranoia. Unable to speak to Alina, who is not returning her calls, and being harassed by an unknown individual, she tries to calmly explain the situation to her employer and the police, but in each instance is overcome by fear, frustration, and anger resulting in her lashing out verbally. The scene hits like a sledgehammer.

The film is presented primarily as a linear narrative, but is intercut with a later recording of Hal explaining his reasons for doing what he is doing; for Leah to understand it is out of “love”. This macro presentation is also key in how Wallis frames many scenes throughout the film. For instance, the stories of Leah and Hal are entwined not only by Hal’s obsession, but how Leah and Hal are focused entirely on making those they love happy, and their struggle to deal with the unrequited. Wallis does a great job interstitially presenting their inner turmoils as similar but ultimately quite different.

BB will not shock you with force; it will unnerve you as it portrays our fears of invasion and isolation. Even when we feel our safest, the second we leave one aspect of our life open for another, that safety could be violated. The film uses its extensive soundtrack to punctuate the emotion of each scene, and though occasionally the music may seem out of place or unnecessary, it is typically used to accentuate the visuals and narrative, something Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to do. My only real criticism of the film, which may seem trivial, is the overuse and sometimes seemingly random use of title cards–from act titles, dates, and even days without contact from Alina–it just feels inconsistent. On the whole, C.J. Wallis has crafted a strong independent thriller worth your time, as it balances the lines of public and private, lurid and perverse, love and obsession. This world is definitely one you will not be comfortable in.

If you are interested in seeing BB, it is available as a bundle with its soundtrack here:

Check out the original review here.


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