New Thriller Is Like African american Mirror for Cam Girls
In the new thriller Camera, which premieres simultaneously in 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, while, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is afraid, of course , that her mommy, 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 customer or two will breach the substantial but understandably not perfect wall that she has designed between her professional and private lives. But most of her days are spent worrying about the details of her work: Does her take action push enough boundaries? Which will patrons should she grow relationships with— and at which others’ expense? Can your woman ever be online enough to crack her site’ s Top 50?
Alice is a making love worker, with all the attendant dangers and occasional humiliations— which moody, neon-lit film under no circumstances shies away from that simple fact. But Alice is also a great artist. In front of the camera, she’ s a convincing actress and improviser as the sweet but fanciful “ Lola. ” Behind it, she’ s a writer, a movie director, and a set custom. (Decorated with oversize bouquets and teddy bears, the extra bedroom that she uses as her set seems to be themed Barbie After Hours. ) So when the unimaginable happens— Alice’ s account is definitely hacked, and a doppelgä nger starts performing her act, with less originality but more popularity— her indignation is ours, too.
The film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is not easy to understate.
But Cam takes its period getting to that mystery. That’ s more than fine, because the film, written by past webcam model Isa Mazzei and first-time director Daniel Goldhaber, immerses us in the dual economies of gender work and online attention. The slow reveal in the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s true striptease— all of it surrounded by an 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 chosen career has anything to do with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken nevertheless unmissable feminist consideration of sex work intalniri pentru sex. The disjunct between Alice’ s seeming regularness and Lola’ ersus over-the-top performances— sometimes concerning blood capsules— is the tip of the iceberg. More amazing is the sense of security and control that webcam-modeling allows— and how illusory that can become when individual entitlement gets unleashed by social niceties.
If the first half of Camera is pleasantly episodic and purringly tense, the latter half— in which Alice searches for her hacker— is clever, resourceful, and wonderfully evocative. A form of Black Mirror for camshaft girls, its frights will be limited to this tiny piece of the web, but no less resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain normal of creative rawness, even as she’ s pressured by machine in front of her to be something of an automaton their self. And versions of the field where a desperate Alice phone calls the cops for assist with the hack, only to come to be faced with confusion about the net and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly played out countless times in the past two decades. At the intersection of the industry that didn’ 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 difficult to understate.
The wonderfully versatile Brewer, who’ s in virtually every scene, pulls off essentially three “ characters”: Alice, Alice as Lola, and Bizarro Lola. It’ t a bravura performance that flits between several facts while keeping the film grounded as the plot changes make narrative leap following narrative leap. Cam’ t villain perhaps represents more an admirable provocation than a satisfying answer. But with such naked ambition on display, who could turn away