It has been said that there is always someone watching us. There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras in the United States and Americans may have been taken photos or videos of in an estimated 200 times a day. Writer/director Adam Rifkin's "LOOK" takes a humorous, darkly foreboding look in the world seen through the lens of security cameras. Sure the events are staged, with its sequences played by different actors--but its concept is undeniably real, REAL enough to get under our skin. You might want to take a look at who's watching the next time you do something stupid.
The movie is about a group of people. Some related, some totally indifferent to each other. Their lives intertwine, and situations develop without even them knowing. The proceedings of the film are seen through the lens of ATM security cameras, mall cameras, back stock cameras, office and school cameras. Everyone is being observed through their jobs, in the street, while they're shopping, even at their homes. So what do you have to hide?
Off the bat, one may see the film's concept as contrived, too expedient and honestly, it's easy to be annoyed with this style of filmmaking seeing as how this gimmick is one that most audiences would easily grow weary of. I do commend Rifkin's approach on the film, it rips away all distractions and goes straight to the point. The style works in the film's favor; it is a strong commentary on what we see and what we ignore in our everyday lives, and what is quite disquieting is the fact that these cameras were built to give us a sense of security; in a way it does, but it all depends on how soon we pay attention to them--and sometimes it is too late.
The characters in "Look" are your typical everyday folks. There's Tony, the sex-starved store manager who sleeps with a lot of female employees, there are the teenage jailbaits who look at sexual challenges, people with great careers who look for more, a nerdy guy who always gets picked on by his co-workers, there's the mini-mart clerk, a teacher, a middle eastern man who takes pride on himself, and of course, the two murderers. I admit, at first glance these are typical clichéd characters but what really got me are the different things they are hiding behind closed doors.
Of course, there are some central stories that become the film's focus, such as the teacher named Krebbs (Jamie McShane) married to a pregnant wife (Kimberly Quinn) who gets seduced by a teenage vixen(Spencer Redford), and while their story isn't really original, it sure adds a lot of narrative impact near the end. Tony the manager's story arc is the one that provides humor that serves as the film's balance. His scenes of sexual escapades were very cool to watch, the man is bold and one would wonder as to how this person could get away with so many indiscretions. Yes, the film has a good number of sex scenes and mild nudity. Homosexual affairs are also hinted at. I also took notice of the recurring subplot of the middle eastern man, which was very conventional as to how it would turn out. But Rifkin manages to stick to his style from the film's beginning to end. The most recognizable face in the film would have to be Guiseppe Andrews, (he played "party man" in Eli Roth's "Cabin Fever") but his was a very minor role and only serves as a simple device for entertainment.
The film is shot in a very simple manner and emulates the workings of a security camera. Director of photography Ron Forsythe keeps the shots very constrained, and limited. There are times when he uses some minimal zoom, and some scenes look sharper than others, but the style pretty much kept grainy, from an angular top view, to emulate realism. There are some rather weird places that this so-called security cams are located (such as the women's fitting room) but all these are explained in the film's commentary.
Rifkin's storytelling is admittedly predictable but he finds ways to break the film's smugness, which made it easier for me to connect with the movie and be enthralled by the screenplay. The film is very interesting but some folks would rather find some of the scenes a little too convenient. It's great writing in the part of Rifkin, but I am sure that these people would've hit several cameras without anything happening to them, it would have been nice to see a visibly significant character appear numerous times and nothing exciting or dark happens to them. It is also debatable as exactly what kind of commentary Rifkin is trying to make, is it the lack of privacy or that these cameras are only as useful as when or if people actually examine them. I guess people can do what people want with what they see. I do think a small suspension of disbelief is required, as for a film meant to emulate people's secrets, these security cams are like "eyes of conscience". I guess it is just statement about the world we live in, it doesn't really present a strong message about things we can improve on, so I suppose one may wonder as to the whole point of the film. In my opinion, it is just what we should do with what we know, and learn to act on what we see and know when to respect other's privacy.
"Look" is pretty creative but not really that inventive. It has excellent intentions, and I do like films that try to come up with something new. It is a slice of our times, the next time you call someone or do something indiscreet and naughty--you would do well to ponder if anyone's watching. Ever get the feeling that someone's watching? Does it make you feel safer or does it make you feel violated?
I always feel like somebody's watching me….
Recommended! [4 Stars]
Video/Audio: 1.78 ratio anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is intentionally made to look grainy to emulate the lens of a security cam. Some scenes switch from black and white to full colored scenes. The 5.1 Dolby digital sound is made to sound like it is also low quality.
Extras: making of feature/ commentaries by Rifkin and the film's producers/ Behind the scenes look/ alternate ending-deleted scenes. A Ron Jeremy appearance, extended shots and deleted scenes of Mrs. Krebbs with her friend and a cameo by Rifkin.
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