At the very beginning of
Look, a title scroll points out that everyone in the United States is
filmed by approximately 200 surveillance cameras every single day.
Then the film goes on to
demonstrate how deeply this phenomenon has completely destroyed any hope for
privacy in the modern world.
allows the audience to eavesdrop on the somewhat intertwined lives of about
twenty people in the Los Angeles area. All of the action is captured
by different forms of surveillance gear: security cameras, police dashboard
cams, nanny cams, cell phone video screens, ATM monitors, computer cams,
dressing room one-way mirrors, elevator cameras... even television news
What we see are people living the
little embarrassing and boring moments of life – because they are under the
mistaken impression that they are alone and not being seen.
This is not the first film
to be made in this manner – earlier this year there was a little Colin Hanks
thriller called Alone With Her that was also supposedly completely
comprised of surveillance footage. I have the feeling there are others I
am not familiar with.
As a camera and
storytelling style it is both intriguingly voyeuristic and at the same time
just a little frustrating. Often the scenes are played out in fixed long shots.
There is wildly varying
picture quality and static sometimes intrudes. Also, in this film, all of the cameras
have full audio so that we can hear what the characters are saying. Most surveillance cams in real life do not have sound.
The episodic structure of
the film makes it hard to catch the threads of the story at first –
particularly with the quick and seemingly random cutting and the pretty-much
unknown cast. However, eventually as the characters keep appearing, a
larger tapestry of sex, violence, anger and death emerges from these
seemingly banal images.
There is an under-aged
teenage temptress who has decided to seduce her happily married teacher, a
pair of convenience store slackers who want to get rich without working, a
married lawyer who leaves his wife and kids to have a down-low homosexual
affair with a colleague, an insurance company drone who is the constant butt
of practical jokes and a lothario department store manager who is trying his
best to have sex with all of his female employees. There are also a
pair of murdering bandits who are leaving a series of bodies in locked car
The characters all
intersect in surprising and increasingly troubling ways – to a point where we
see collisions coming for the lives of many of them. There is a bit of
gallows humor here, but for the most part peoples' actions become darker and
darker, giving the film a suspenseful charge.
For example, a series of
shots of a man in a goofy blue first-mate's cap following mothers and their
little daughters around a mall – always on the alert for the opportunity to
get the girl alone – is more disturbing and scarier than anything you'll
see in any monster film.
Of course when we find out
who exactly the stalker is, it turns out to be just one of common sense jumps that
the film takes. Not that it certainly couldn't have been him, it just seems
a little convenient as a plot point. However, if you are willing to
buy into the occasional logic flights and melodrama, you are rewarded with a
complex, taut thriller.
Look was written and
directed by Adam Rifkin – who was known for much more lightweight fare in his
studio days – stuff like Small Soldiers, Detroit Rock City and
Rifkin and his fresh, talented cast have taken what might have been merely a
gimmick picture and made a fascinating and somewhat tragic portrait of the lack of privacy in modern
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: November 30, 2007.