Friday, July 26, 2019

Fantasia 2019: Homewrecker

Just how nice is too nice? We've all been there -- uncomfortably trapped in a conversation without end with a person who seems to be without a clue. You drops hints -- your body language is practically shooting electric shocks -- but their frequency and yours don't seem to be connecting. And the moments, they stretch into days, years, you feel your face go numb and your tongue loll around at the back of your throat, seemingly considering its own suicide leap down into the abyss of your body. Make way for the end, sweet reliefs, anything to stop this momental awkwardness closing in to seal its doom.

Societal awkwardness, exacerbated by social media and cell phones, a lack of interpersonal interactions, is the white people plague of our day (at least until the actual plagues start turning up), and it's the lifeblood of Zach Gayne's film Homewrecker, which has one too friendly face mistake another's polite smile for ripe red meat. Michelle (the ever terrific Alex Essoe from Starry Eyes) meets Linda (co-writer Precious Chong) at yoga, and then again at the coffee shop, and before she knows what's even happening Michelle's been coerced by her need to be nice, too nice, into a girl's trip straight to hell.

Linda is a wild-eyed ball of unsettlingly overdone sisterhood cliches, from her pink-box movie addiction to the greeting card platitudes she spouts like holy scripture -- it's clear to Michelle from the start that there's something off, but Linda's being so nice and available, and Michelle's distracted with boy stuff, which Linda really wants to help her through. So what if she's got a sledgehammer hanging from her dining-room wall? Just one friendly drink and Michelle will be on her way, dot dot dot...

Homewrecker is a bloody funny hoot, a ribald feminist immorality tale, and it works as well as it does because of its leading ladies, who're totally committed to its ever more outlandish material. If the film didn't quite convince me that Michelle's as stuck as the film needed her to be to keep its plot going for its entire ninety minute run-time -- I was often exasperated by her inability to grasp her situation and do what needs to be done -- I just as usually didn't care? I was willing to let it slide because I wanted to see these two gals keep interacting, and what further girlish nonsense nightmares Linda had in store. Chong is a real riot, utterly convincing as desperation taken lady shape. But even as the story flirts with the worn-out tropes of lonely women gone mad a la Misery it dances so boisterously in its own absurd little way that it stays satirically bonkers enough to just get away with murder. 

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