SHARE? is a fantastic new feature from Ira Rosensweig. The amazing thing is that there is one single camera position, but it’s also incredibly dynamic. There are a lot of picture-in-picture going on, and that allows us to experience the world of the various captives.
SHARE? by Ira Rosensweig
The history of cinema may seem to be about the fluidity of the camera. Starting in the 1910s, we saw movement of cameras through space to allow for greater exploration of the scene. This idea evolved rather slowly, but eventually things accelerated with the 1990s and 2000s making handheld camerawork very much the norm in many areas of film, especially in genre. Even filmmakers who had been long champions of the lock-down camera, like Kevin Smith and Jim Jarmusch, have gone all glidey. When we encounter a film that doesn’t play in those fields, we can be jarred by it.
Then again, it also can allow for a stage that is a powerful platform for all sorts of performance.
This latter is best exemplified by SHARE?, the fantastic new feature from Ira Rosensweig.
This is a science fiction story that brought my mind immediately to a classic E.M. Forster story The Machine Stops. We open with a single man, alone, in a sparsely decorated room. He can interact with a screen using the green text that marked old computers. Eventually, he finds that he’s able to access a video-based network that allows others who are trapped (and perhaps others...) to view and communicate with one another. By producing content, they are able to earn credits towards materials for their cells.
You can certainly see almost immediately the parallel between the SHARE? Universe and the TikTok universe, no?
The amazing thing is that there is one single camera position, but it’s also incredibly dynamic. Yes, each of the rooms are shot from the exact same set-up, but the rooms are different, and more importantly, there’s the variety of stuff on-screen. There is a lot of picture-in-picture going on, and that allows us to experience the world of the various captives. Well, the inverted world of the captives. There’s near-constant text on the side of the screen, with data about their available funds or commands, the most important of which being ‘SHARE?’
This kind of film is a risk. You have to have a magnetic cast who, in essence, become your movement. The lead, Melvin Gregg, is fantastic, and Bradley Whitford, he of The West Wing and Jake’s dad on Brooklyn 99, is absolutely perfect for the role as a mentor/obnoxious jerk with a heart of slightly-less-than-gold, perhaps.
Alice Braga, though, is an absolute revelation.
She is great as the one who questions the entire system, and is eventually won over, in a way, while still maintaining her paranoia, and something akin to idealism. She is an ideal science fiction actress, as she makes herself real at the same time as realistically interacting with the non-reality of the world she finds herself in. Everyone is great, but she’s an absolute marvel. When she gives herself over to the world she finds herself trapped in, she turns the entire piece into something more and more fascinating. And when she turns from that, it carries even more power.
The ultimate message of the piece is likely summed up in a single line: “Overall, we’re kept comfortable and distracted.”
If there is a better phrase to sum-up the world of today, and especially the influencer/TikToker/Instalebrity/OnlyFans world, I don’t know what it is.
This is an absolute masterpiece of a thought-experiment. Sadly, most thought experiments end up being far too deep into themselves, but this one, this is not that at all. It’s fascinating, and dynamic. We can find elements of people we are acutely aware of in our social media feeds. I did a bit of a look: one of the screens we see for a period is exactly my TikTok friend Tom, another is absolutely a dead-ringer presentation-wise for my Instagram friend Lisa. The performances feel like performances, at times, and while I would sometimes complain that would make the piece feel theater-y, it is actually far more realistic in the way those captives interact with the system, because it is EXACTLY how we interact with the systems we’ve found to keep ourselves distracted and comfortable. You can tell that it’s a choice, especially from Gregg and Danielle Campbell. They give great performances that demand you delve in deeper with every second they are on screen.
There are so many other messages here as well. There is a simple one about group dynamics, about leaders and the prices they pay, or have extracted from them. There’s the idea of our choices being finite, free will being an illusion, or at the very least limited. There is, also, Plato’s Cave going on. I almost look at it a an inverted-The Matrix. There is no shortage of thoughtful mental discourse that SHARE? makes possible. In fact, I’d argue it forces it on you, and in a way that you eventually realise is exactly what you wanted all along.
SHARE?? is a Spotlight film at Cinejoy on Friday, March 3rd at 5:15pm. You will absolutely want to check this one out. https://creatics.org/create/cinejoy/premiere/more-info/267150/Share-