Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bug (2007)

The key, I think, to William Friedkin's ferocious record of mental deterioration is its rooting in the physical: Before everything goes haywire, Friedkin makes sure that we understand the reality in which all of this takes place. From the opening crane shot (certainly a sop to those who would complain about its eventual staginess, but also a fine way to orient the viewer as to the surroundings in which this will take place) to the staging of the actors in relation to each other, shifting to and fro without quite making contact, to the preponderance of bodily fluids (urine, mucus, sweat and tears all make prominent appearances), the first half of this film is devoted to providing a concrete, palpable reality which the second half can then blow apart. The dividing line is the sex scene between Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon (both of whom give fantastic, deranged performances) -- it's as intensely physical as any sex scene in recent memory, but there's also an emotional transference taking place, and it's here that Tracey Letts' script shifts its focus to the mental state rather than then the physical state of its two main characters. Madness, in Letts' world, is as communicable as any STD if you're open enough to it, and Judd's character is painted carefully enough that you can believe her seeing Shannon as her desperate last chance to have something right and good in her life. Eventually, everything goes gloriously nuts; Judd and Shannon's minds disappear completely into their own and each other's manias as their bodies are presumably further invaded by the "bugs" which Shannon insists are everywhere outside and inside his being. Progressively, the body becomes ravaged and blistered, a walking pile of meat to house the uncontrollable mind; that the film ends as it does is abrupt but entirely appropriate. Wonderfully creepy and paranoid stuff, this is.

Grade: B+


Anonymous scott said...

Hmm...I just released that this was shot in New Orleans and a nearby suburb. Interesting. I was always going to watch this, but now I'm even more interested.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

erm, make that "I just noticed."

9:44 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Yeah, definitely give this here a look. I can't say if you'll like it or not, but I thought it was pretty cool. At the very least, it has the first worthwhile Ashley Judd performance since before Double Jeopardy.

Okay, screw that: I predict you'll give it a 56.

(Amusing note: When leaving the theater, I overheard at least three people complaining that Bug was the worst movie they ever saw. I actually spoke up to one kvetching couple, saying that trust me, there's far, far worse in the world of the cinema in my opinion.)

12:17 AM  

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