The Movie Waffler First Look Review - STREAMER | The Movie Waffler


First Look Review - STREAMER

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A lonely young man becomes dangerously obsessed with his cam-girl neighbour.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Jared Bratt, Vincent Pun

Starring: Jared Bratt, Tanya Lee, Brennan Pedde

streamer film poster

Remember the internet? It started off as a right laugh. Yahoo, flash, MSN messenger; those were the days. The information superhighway! It was a way to make connections, and, via nascent social platforms, a route to expressing yourself and reaching out. But then it all went a bit unhinged. There was the overwhelming availability of pornography, so so much of it, yet none of it true, none of that shining, greasy flesh real in any sense. Nothing you could actually touch or taste or breathe in the scent of. It was frustrating! And the less ostensibly salacious interactions, were they any more tangible? The online personas which people painstakingly curated for themselves; initially a bit of fun, in time they became a crushing reminder of the streamlined ideals we wanted to be but would never fully become. And the trolls! Remember the trolls?! Free from inhibiting social expectations, the internet allowed certain wretched souls free reign to be the people they truly were, and it turned out that lots of us were essentially petty, unpleasant and, in actuality, lonelier than ever. So, in the end we had to shut it all down, and we went back to talking to one another face to face and sending pictures of kittens via carrier pigeons. #InternetIsOverParty.

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Only joking; I love the internet, warts and all. But the murky ideas which Jared Bratt and Vincent Pun (writers/directors) explore in their tight, disturbingly plausible psycho-thriller Streamer do give one pause for thought. A bleak study in isolation, the film opens with Jared (compellingly played by Bratt) creating a YouTube video in which he pours his lonely, embittered heart out; ‘I’ve realised lately that I’m alone…. [I want to] talk to a girl, relationships, love, affection, things that everyone wants.’ You said a mouthful there, Jared. We all imagine that being in a relationship will be the salve to all our woes, that love will save the day. What’s more, we somehow believe that we all have a right to this sort of happiness; why else would Jared feel so comfortable posting such a self-pitying missive? In a following montage, we see the grey suppression of Jared’s little life: shuffling about his flat, doing his laundry, the damning legend of ‘NO VIEWS’ on his YouTube channel, more laundry (this isn’t Streamer’s fault, but these bits reminded me of the sequence in Lego Batman when Bruce is interminably watching his microwave meal revolve, and I had to chuckle). Eventually, as every man left to his own electronic devices and access to the internet is wont to do, he turns to the old cyber smut, specifically a cam-girl. A cam-girl who unknowingly bears the responsibility of solving Jared’s loneliness, his solitude and social issues. And, as luck would have it (good luck for him, bad for her), it turns out that she (Ivy, played by Tanya Lee, brilliant) lives in the same apartment block as Jared. Uh oh!

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For a film where the drama is essentially focused on one man staring at a screen, to the reciprocal blush of cheaply illuminated bedroom cam-shows, Streamer is cleverly cinematic; focusing on the torn cuticles of Jared as he types and making a gothic cavern of his small living space, lit only by the artificial glow of a laptop screen. Jared seems to get sweatier and more hollow-eyed as this deliberately airless film continues, his desperation embellished by the professional cheer of Ivy, who is all restless priapism and fixed smiles within the red hued screen (and full marks to the film for not including any actual, exploitative nudity here). As an off-internet, passing friendship between the two emerges (Jared sneakily arranges it so he can bum a cigarette during Ivy’s fag break, keeping schtum about the cam stuff), Bratt and Pun shoot their ‘real life’ sequences with an over-lit exposure, giving the pleasantly awkward small talk between Jared and Ivy a harshly mundane reality.

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Because away from the rosy illusion of intimacy which Jared’s cam-interactions entail, real life can be a bit slow and dull. You have to make the most of it. And away from her job, Ivy is a person, not a caricature, with her own things going on. Unlike Jared, she has an actual, you know, life. She’s not there to rescue him. But left to fester, Jared’s creepy obsession burgeons, confusing ersatz affection with the potential for true love, whatever that means. It transpires that Jared is a wannabe film-maker, or, at least, a cineaste, with his flat full to the brim with DVDs and blu-rays, stacked neatly on shelves. The implication is that he spends more time within the artificiality of constructed images than in corporeality. We all know that the most destructive lie Hollywood ever told is that the lonely nerd gets the girl in the end, simply by virtue of perseverance and being a ‘nice guy’. Believing in such a comfortable fantasy programmed these poor sods with entitlement, the bogus expectation that validation would eventually arrive in the shapely form of a recently epiphanous prom queen. That their lack of romantic/sexual success was nothing to do with their insular worldview or their self-limiting social skills. In the raw and authentic Streamer, with devastating inevitability, for Jared (and Ivy), there is no such happy ending.

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