New Thriller Is Like Dark Mirror for Cam Young ladies
In the new thriller Camera, which premieres simultaneously about Netflix and in theaters about Friday, pretty much everything that cam girl Alice (The Handmaid’ s Tale’ s Madeline Brewer) fears might happen does. What surprises, nevertheless, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is afraid, of course , that her mommy, younger tits.com brother, and the rest of their small town in New Mexico will discover her night job. And she’ s probably not alone in her worries that a buyer or two will breach the substantial but understandably imperfect wall that she has constructed between her professional and private lives. But most of her days are spent fretting about the details of her work: Does her work push enough boundaries? Which will patrons should she cultivate relationships with— and at which others’ expense? Can the girl ever be online enough to crack her site’ s Top 50?
Alice is a love-making worker, with all the attendant hazards and occasional humiliations— and this moody, neon-lit film never shies away from that simple fact. But Alice is also a great artist. In front of the camera, she’ s a convincing presenter and improviser as the sweet but fanciful “ Lola. ” Behind it, she’ s a writer, a home, and a set artist. (Decorated with oversize blossoms and teddy bears, the free bedroom that she uses as her set seems to be themed Barbie After Hours. ) So when the unimaginable happens— Alice’ s account is usually hacked, and a doppelgä nger starts performing her act, with less creativity but more popularity— her indignation is ours, too.
The film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is hard to understate.
But Cam takes its period getting to that mystery. That’ s more than fine, because the film, written by ex – webcam model Isa Mazzei and first-time director Daniel Goldhaber, immerses us inside the dual economies of intimacy work and online focus. The slow reveal of the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s genuine striptease— all of it surrounded by a great aura of authenticity. (Small-bladdered Alice, for example , constantly apologizes to her clients for the frequency of her bath room visits. ) And though Alice denies that her chosen career has anything to carry out with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken although unmissable feminist consideration of sex work. The disjunct between Alice’ s appearing regularness and Lola’ h over-the-top performances— sometimes affecting blood capsules— is the tip of the iceberg. More amazing is the sense of basic safety and control that webcam-modeling allows— and how illusory that can become when individual entitlement gets unleashed from social niceties.
If the first half of Cam is pleasantly episodic and purringly tense, the latter half— in which Alice searches for her hacker— is clever, original, and wonderfully evocative. A type of Black Mirror for camera girls, its frights are limited to this tiny piece of the web, but no less resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain common of creative rawness, while she’ s pressured by the machine in front of her to become something of an automaton their self. And versions of the landscape where a desperate Alice calling the cops for improve the hack, only to come to be faced with confusion about the internet and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly performed out countless times in past times two decades. At the intersection of industry that didn’ capital t exist a decade ago and a great ageless trade that’ s seldom portrayed candidly in popular culture, the film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is not easy to understate.
The wonderfully versatile Machine, who’ s in virtually every scene, pulls off essentially three “ characters”: Alice, Alice as Lola, and Bizarro Lola. It’ h a bravura performance that flits between several realities while keeping the film grounded as the plot twists make narrative leap following narrative leap. Cam’ ersus villain perhaps represents extra an admirable provocation than the usual satisfying answer. But with such naked ambition on display, whom could turn away