New Thriller Is Like Black color Mirror for Cam Girls
In the new thriller Camera, which premieres simultaneously about Netflix and in theaters in Friday, pretty much everything that camera girl Alice (The Handmaid’ s Tale’ s Madeline Brewer) fears might happen does. What surprises, even though, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is frightened, of course , that her mother, younger brother, and the associated with their small town in New Mexico will discover her night job. And she’ s probably not alone in her worries that a client or two will breach the substantial but understandably imperfect wall that she has designed between her professional and private lives. But most of her days are spent fretting about the details of her work: Does her act push enough boundaries? Which will patrons should she enhance relationships with— and at which usually others’ expense? Can the girl ever be online enough to crack her site’ s Top 50?
Alice is a gender worker, with all the attendant dangers and occasional humiliations— and this moody, neon-lit film by no means shies away from that simple fact. But Alice is also a great artist. In front of the camera, she’ s a convincing actress and improviser as the sweet but fanciful “ Lola. ” Behind it, she’ s a writer, a home, and a set custom made. (Decorated with oversize flowers and teddy bears, the free bedroom that she uses as her set seems to be themed Barbie After Hours. ) So when the unimaginable happens— Alice’ s account is certainly hacked, and a doppelgä nger starts performing her act, with less originality but more popularity— her indignation is ours, as well.
The film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is difficult to understate.
But Cam takes its period getting to that mystery. That’ s more than fine, as the film, written by ex – webcam model Isa Mazzei and first-time director Daniel Goldhaber, immerses us inside the dual economies of love-making work and online interest. The slow reveal with the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s actual striptease— all of it surrounded by a great aura of authenticity. (Small-bladdered Alice, for example , constantly apologizes to her clients for the frequency of her bathroom visits. ) And though Alice denies that her chosen career has anything to perform with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken nevertheless unmissable feminist consideration of sex work. The disjunct between Alice’ s appearing to be regularness and Lola’ s i9000 over-the-top performances— sometimes regarding blood capsules— is the hint of the iceberg. More amazing is the sense of safe practices and control that webcam-modeling allows— and how illusory that can become when male entitlement gets unleashed from social niceties.
If the first half of Camshaft is pleasantly episodic and purringly tense, the latter half— in which Alice searches for her hacker— is clever, resourceful, and wonderfully evocative. A kind of Black Mirror for camshaft girls, its frights will be limited to this tiny slice of the web, but believe it or not resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain common of creative rawness, even as she’ s pressured by machine in front of her to get something of an automaton himself. And versions of the picture where a desperate Alice phone calls the cops for aid in the hack, only to come to be faced with confusion about the internet and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly enjoyed out countless times before two decades. At the intersection of the industry that didn’ capital t exist a decade ago and a great ageless trade that’ s i9000 seldom portrayed candidly in popular culture, the film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is not easy to understate.
The wonderfully versatile Brewer, who’ s in just about any scene, pulls off essentially three “ characters”: Alice, Alice as Lola, and Bizarro Lola. It’ ersus a bravura performance that flits between several realities while keeping the film grounded as the plot twists make narrative leap after narrative leap. Cam’ ersus villain perhaps represents even more an admirable seks provocation compared to a satisfying answer. But with such naked ambition on display, exactly who could turn away