Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Nowhere Man (2005)

Any film that quotes Detour, that blackest of black-hearted noir, ten minutes into its running time has some big cojones and some big shoes to fill. To extrapolate that metaphor, then, would be to paint this film as having large testicles and no feet of which to speak. The lurid premise has promise (it's the John Wayne Bobbit story, basically); said promise is then shat upon by a combination of incompetent screenwriting and incompetent direction. It's one thing to be low-budget and make it work for you, but it's quite another to attempt things that are beyond your grasp. The low-grade digital video camerawork chosen by writer/director Tim McCann flattens everything out, thus robbing this film of any atmosphere, and his setups are generally dull. What's worse, his time-tripping editing is flat-out awful -- not only does fracturing the chronology harm the film (it would have been best to open with the premise, grab the audience's attention and run from there), but the action scenes are laughably splintered, as if destroying the spatiality of the action could somehow hide the fact that you didn't bother to choreograph the fights. Apparently, McCann didn't bother to direct his actors either, since the acting is dismal and the lead is a hopeless unsympathetic rapist/meathead anyway; one wonders what the fuck McCann actually did on set. Debbie Rochon -- one of modern B-cinema's most talented actresses -- does manage to save a couple of scenes through her charisma alone (her delivery of the retarded line "I'll eat it!" is pretty heroic), but she's the only one who looks like she showed any effort. What's most troubling about this juvenile dung heap, though, is its thematic material -- what we have here is a repulsive rumination on white-man inadequacy. I would love to believe that McCann is being ironic or sarcastic or satiric or something and that the message of this film really isn't "White dudes, watch your ladies because they're probably whores who will emasculate you and run off with black men who have bigger dicks than you anyway!"... but I can't. On all evidence here, McCann sincerely believes in the Madonna/whore dichotomy and the myth of the virile black stud who wants to steal all the white women. If he questions his lead's behavior, he's keeping those questions to himself. Yecch.

Grade: F


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