New Thriller Is Like Black color Mirror for Cam Ladies
In the new thriller Cam, which premieres simultaneously about Netflix and in theaters in Friday, pretty much everything that cam girl Alice (The Handmaid’ s Tale’ s Madeline Brewer) fears might happen does. What surprises, though, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is scared, of course , that her mother, younger 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 consumer or two will breach the substantial but understandably not perfect wall that she has built between her professional and private lives. But most of her days are spent fretting about the details of her work: Does her react push enough boundaries? Which patrons should she enhance relationships with— and at which will others’ expense? Can the girl ever be online enough to crack her site’ s Top 50?
Alice is a sex worker, with all the attendant dangers and occasional humiliations— and this moody, neon-lit film by no means shies away from that fact. But Alice is also an 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 custom made. (Decorated with oversize bouquets and teddy bears, the extra bedroom that she uses as her set appears 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 appearance but more popularity— her indignation is ours, also.
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 previous webcam model Isa Mazzei and first-time director Daniel Goldhaber, immerses us in the dual economies of intimacy work and online attention. The slow reveal in the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s actual 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 bathroom visits. ) And though Alice denies that her picked career has anything to carry out with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken but unmissable feminist consideration of sex work. The disjunct between Alice’ s appearing regularness and Lola’ t over-the-top performances— sometimes including blood capsules— is the suggestion of the iceberg. More fascinating is the sense of basic safety and control that webcam-modeling allows— and how illusory that can become when individual entitlement gets unleashed out of social niceties.
If the first half of Camshaft is pleasantly episodic and purringly tense, the latter half— in which Alice searches for her hacker— is clever, innovative, and wonderfully evocative. A kind of Black Mirror for cam girls, its frights happen to be limited to this tiny slice of the web, but no less resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain normal of creative rawness, whilst she’ s pressured by the machine in front of her to get something of an automaton very little. And versions of the picture where a desperate Alice telephone calls the cops for assistance with the hack, only to be faced with confusion about the net and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly played out countless times before two decades. At the intersection of an industry that didn’ big t exist a decade ago and a great ageless trade that’ ersus seldom portrayed candidly in popular culture, the film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is hard to understate.
The wonderfully versatile Coffee maker, who’ s in virtually every scene, pulls off essentially three “ characters”: Alice, Alice as Lola, and Bizarro Lola. It’ ersus a bravura performance that flits between several facts while keeping the film grounded as the plot changes make narrative leap freexxx following narrative leap. Cam’ s i9000 villain perhaps represents considerably more an admirable provocation than a satisfying answer. But with many of these naked ambition on display, who have could turn away