Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Review: Bug

A Lionsgate film 2007
Directed by William Friedkin
Written by Tracy Letts

A paranoid, unhinged war veteran (Michael Shannon) who sees insects everywhere holes up with a lonely woman (Ashley Judd) in a spooky Oklahoma motel room.

This intense psychological thriller is being marketed as a horror flick, perhaps because director Friedkin is the man behind that scare classic The Exorcist, but to strictly label it as such is pretty unfair. Bug is scary, for sure, but the screams don't come from any slashers or supernatural beings. This is a film about what lurks deep inside the human mind, and the horrors it can manifest when two sick and lonely people spend too much time together.

Based on Letts' hit off-broadway play of the same name, the film is dialogue heavy, but stands supported by Shannon and Judd's strong performances. As they slowly transform from a pair of off-kilter drifters to certifiable crack-ups, they command the screen. Friedkin's semi-hand held camera captures the experience as if we were right along side them, producing a bitter-sweet feeling of sympathy and disgust.

Ambiguity plays a huge role in keeping the film interesting as well. We never do find out if the 'bugs' are real, and knowing that our narrator is a drug addicted deadbeat renders her completely unreliable. It's up to the audience to decifer exactly what's going on, and even if it seems clear, it's never quite crystal. But the film gives just enough details to patch together several unique interpretations that could leave film-goers arguing for days. One such interpretation has been heavily debated on the Lionsgate forum for the film, and claims that the characters are suffering from Morgellons disease, a sort of psychological impairment that causes extreme paranoia. While I find this idea way too literal (it does no justice to the nuanced tics of the characters), it certainly is interesting.

Bug is definitely worth a gander, but don't go into it expecting The Exorcist. It's a much smaller, more personal film that will either grab you or leave you cold. Think Terry Gilliam's Tideland, and might know what I mean. It really makes me wish I had seen the play - it must be amazing to see on stage.

William Friedkin on the actors in Bug

about Ashley Judd: "Ashley and I talked extensively about the film before we did it, and we were really on the same page."

about Michael Shannon: "To achieve Shannon’s performance took a great deal of discussion, toning, modulation. Shannon is primarily a stage actor, he’s only done small parts in films, though I’ve been told he has a very good role in World Trade Center, a small but pivotal part. He needs a lot of attention, love, appreciation. He becomes that character. And you have to realize that you’re talking to the character and not to him when you start rehearsing. You’ve got to walk on eggshells. He would tend to go over the top too soon, so I’d have to bring him down. But whenever I would modulate his performance, he almost took it as an insult to his character!"

about Harry Connick: "I’d met Connick at a party before I was casting this film, and I saw that a very large part of him was this guy. When I called him to do this role and sent him the script, I told him about some of his behaviour which I’d observed, and he knew exactly what I was talking about. There’s a part of him that likes to put people on like Goss does, sometimes maliciously."


brennanballas said...

i wonder if anyone thought that there were going to be actual bugs in this movie... it seemed pretty clear from the get-go. paranoia is contagious... (leans back far into his rocking chair)
THAT reminds me of an episode of HOUSE i saw once. He was on an airplane and there was a suspected contagion going around. The terror began when an Asian man grew sick, House and some Lady Doctor diagnosed him with a virus. People started to flip their shit. Even the Lady came down with the sickness. Then.. near the end of the episode House gave a good stern look into the camera, shook his jowels and told everyone that there was nothing to be worried about at all because the Asian guy had actually swallowed a busted bag of Cocaine. So basically the whole plane was just full of a bunch of...

You know they should just name the movie FUG, why? Because. That's why.

Actually- how about this,
Ashley Judd (who actually got her start in Star Trek, TNG as Ensign Lefler [r.i.p. {and yeah, i'm pretty bored}]) and the Michael Shannon (girl's name) are descended upon by dwarfs, midgets, pygmies, Aboriginal people, all native people for that matter, those "hobbit" creatures from Indonesia, hobbits, Fernando, leprechauns, billy goated children, German children, really old Asian farmers, many Asian women, Thumbelina, more German kids, that one kid's Mom, Danny DeVito (and his clones), grey-style aliens, little bigfoot, the Grandma Brigade, and other assorted ilk of little people. Also there would be at least three scenes where Ashley Judd is tied down and must find a way out before being gangbanged.. this being after two previous failed attempts before the three (making a total of five gangbangs). The movie, which would last for seven hours and would only be played at seven in the morning would be titled

you haven't seen Ashely Judd until you've seen her in a Starfleet uniform.

e. banks said...

miss judd is still pretty fine in her old age. i was glad to see her do something other than some lame chicky murder drama