Monday, March 20, 2006

She's One of Us (2005)


The wipe in the opening scene of this creepy corporate-themed mindfuck suggests a film about the obliteration of the self and sublimation to the surrounding environment. If the subsequent narrative followed that line of logic, it would be merely a good entry in the Anti-Cube Sweepstakes. Writer/director Siegrid Alnoy, however, sees the argument as a bit more complex than that. She's One of Us is foremost a character study of a woman who has no character to study. Christine Blanc cannot subsume her identity to a corporate entity because she has none to begin with. She steals pieces from others when attempting human contact and lies about her background incessantly. Why? Because she can't help it -- she can't tell the truth about herself because there is no "herself," only the job she, as a temp, is currently performing. In this respect, Sasha Andres's stunning performance is a major asset in helping this film reach its goals. Andres's face is placid, almost like a mask, but the eyes betray her -- behind her eyes are raging neuroses, paranoia and confusion and disassociation. Alnoy could use her marvelous face and just ride out the dehumanization theme until the credits rolled, but there's something else in store for the third act. Andres does indeed become "one of us" when she gets hired on permanently by one of the many conglomerates for which she toils. As she fades into the company machine, an interesting thing happens -- the film slides into abstraction. It ceases to be about her and becomes of her. (As usual, Sicinski explicates this better than I can.) As the world recrafts itself around her, the double meaning behind the title becomes explicit. If she crafts the world in her image, what's to separate her from us? Don't we all see that which we want to see and ignore that which contradicts? This realization, along with Andres's extraordinary, opaque performance, lends the film an unshakable effect. It's a heady existential femme gloss on American Psycho, and I enjoyed it verily.

Grade: A-


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