Friday, 27 November 2015

REVIEW - ENTERTAINMENT (RICK ALVERSON)


You'll forgive Rick Alverson's Entertainment, in the end, for having so little to say about society. It poses as a reflection upon society, and ends up commenting more upon itself than upon anything else. Its sad self-reflection is manifested in scene after scene of melancholic despair, the morose mood accentuated by Lorenzo Hagerman's astute cinematography. The effect is subtle and insidious, beguilingly so in that it's achieved via such overt means - Entertainment is an unashamedly, essentially caustic film, an anti-comedy with so sharp a sardonic streak it even seems to cut into itself. Little wonder all it can do is navel-gaze, as it spews bile, blood and shit out of self-inflicted incisions. Formally, the film is surprisingly well-crafted, though it lacks the depth of purpose that similarly-composed films take upon themselves; Entertainment is necessarily shallow, but such serious shallowness never feels like it amounts to much. As the screenplay progresses, it becomes ever more apparent that it's merely hitting all the expected targets en route to a typically bleak, desperate denouement - hitting them with precision and panache, targets that at least bear a callous, offbeat quality, the whole enterprise satisfyingly strange in the simplest way. Gregg Turkington has the tics of his comedian character down to the tiniest tee, and convinces with his creation, which may be the principal reason that Entertainment doesn't wither away entirely. He's a fragile figure, but Turkington's single-minded strength turns him into a cohesive force for the film. You'll forgive it all its flaws, in the end - there's fine work on display here.