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FrightFest 2019: Feedback

Director: Pedro C. Alonso

Writers: Pedro C. Alonso and Alberto Marini

Starring: Eddie Marsan, Ivana Baquero, Paul Anderson, Richard Brake 


Jarvis Dolan (Eddie Marsan)  is the star host of ‘The Grim Reality’, a successful late night radio show. His whole life turns upside down when two armed, masked men burst into the studio taking him and his entire show hostage. They want Jarvis and his former co-host (Paul Anderson) to confess to a scandal that could destroy their lives and careers. However, Jarvis has no clue what they are talking about. Initial Reactions C. If you’re looking for a quintessential Me Too Movement-Thriller, you’ll probably stumble upon Feedback. This isn’t a bad thing, actually once the movie gets going I was at the edge of my seat, tapping my foot, trying to figure out the truth. I say this as the characters and event in question are so connected to the real life individuals (perpetrators and victims) and these crimes that it was difficult for the movie to stand on its own, because I was constantly being reminded of a real incident. Yet I didn’t feel the message was being crammed down my throat in a way that becomes patronizing as an audience member. If you want to send a message, use Western Union. I believe one of the reasons why the film doesn’t become “preachy” is that we are seeing this from the perspective of one of the alleged offenders. And Eddie Marsan is phenomenal as the type in question, a controlling professional that is hellbent on success. A large credit is also given to Ivana Baquero, as one of the victims exacting her revenge on the men. She plays the role with a strong command but also as a victim who is made to question her own memory of the event. Also, Richard Brake is in it and JESUS CHRIST he deserves way more credit. If I got to make a movie, I’d cast you in a heartbeat Mr. Brake. It is mainly one location and if you’ve read my comments on prior “one location films,” you’d know that I think to make it work you need to have exceptional acting and a story that moves, because any lull is really felt but the viewer. I did find myself questioning how much longer it can go on about every 30 minutes because a major truth would be revealed to the point that you’d assume “the truth is out so it must be wrapping up,” that’s not the case, the whole story isn’t realized until the last few minutes. There are questions of how in this skyscraper with modern technology, the security system/employees are scarce. I understand it is late at night but since we’ve established Jarvis has already been assaulted, kidnapped, and threatened recently before the movie begins, you’d think they’d beef up security. The other major issue is if the people holding Jarvis hostage are actually the victims enacting their brand of vigilante justice, with Brake’s character, they’re willing to dispatch of innocents like it’s nothing. The argument could be made that their trauma affected them in such a way that they’ve gone mad but then it negates their intention for justice. So you’re left with rich, powerful, white men who use their status to do horrible things to people, however, the only way the victims will be heard is if they become monsters. Yes, you could suggest “it’s just a fictional movie, so don’t think too much into it” but as stated before with the content being so topical, Alonso didn’t allow himself the opportunity for the audience to separate art from real life.    J. This was a decent thriller to be sure and the acting all around was top notch.  Richard Brake is phenomenal as he usually is but so is everyone else.  All of the characters were more unlikable than they usually are in something like this.  Yes, even the victims considering they killed people who had nothing to do with their agenda which also seemed to be a really long winded way of exacting their so called “revenge.”  I think they could’ve thought their plan through a little more if I’m honest.  We also don’t exactly know the truth of the allegations either.  Is the girl misremembering or is Jarvis just too stubborn to admit he did something terrible?  I really don’t know the answer but I kind of like it better that way.  The two gunmen were ruthless and brutal as all hell with creepy ass masks to boot.  I feel like once the masks come off though, they lose an edge that they had over Jarvis and the audience too.  K. This was an interesting little locked-room thriller that touched on topical subjects such as Me Too, fake news and the online hysteria of social media.  Eddie Marsan gives a really strong performance in the lead as the brash radio host, and he is supported by a very talented ensemble featuring Richard Brake, Paul Anderson, Oliver Coopersmith, Ivana Baquero, Alexis Rodney, Anthony Head and Alana Boden.  It all boils down to Marsan trapped in his studio, on the air, as gunmen demand he reveals the details of a night long ago when things went out of hand at a hotel after party.  The core of this premise allows for the story to touch on the aforementioned topical themes, however the film begins en media res with rapid fire dialogue, almost like a play, and it is a bit difficult to find our footing as the viewer.  And throughout, though well directed and acted, something feels off the whole way through, something missing in the writing that I can’t quite put my finger on.


Response

C. There’s no denying that the acting and technical quality of Feedback is on point. For me what it boils down to over these couple of days is its unwillingness to take a stance. The “victims” kill innocent people to get justice? Thinking back on it I would call it “Cinematic Clickbait” (Give me credit if no one has coined that term yet), because it deals with something very topical at the moment, yet it feels inauthentic and from a place of slight ignorance. It gives the audience the go-ahead to victim shame based on their horrible actions. It would make sense if all the deaths were staged in an elaborate ploy to get the truth out but no, they kill innocent people without remorse. Then it’s played out in a way that we’re meant to root for Jarvis even if he did play a part in the crime that is being mentioned. But RICHARD BRAKE! J. I think there’s a real question of victim vs. bad guy here. The longer the film goes on, the more you question who is who I guess. And then there’s the real kicker where you don’t ever know the truth. I can see how that’s gonna frustrate some folks. I was fine with it as I like to make my own judgments about such things and the ambiguousness played fine with me but it does leave more questions than answers so be prepared for that. K. It’s competently made and the cast does a good job with the material, Marsan and Brake in particular. This film just feels like it doesn’t know what it wants to be exactly. I think Craig is right in that it feels like a drama-ripped-from-the-headlines idea, but then the filmmakers realized that didn’t really have anything to say on the subject. In the end it feels like a waste of money and talent that could’ve been used to serve a better and more well thought out story. Bloodhound’s average score: 3 out of 5

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