A close-up of a woman's face.
Let me start by saying there is an incredibly long history of having films carried by close-ups of women, probably starting with the amazing The Passion of Joan of Arc by Dreyer. Here, it is a young woman, obviously of the right-the-fuck-now, and we start on her mouth, her lips.
I could write a book about the role of the mouth in the art of the 20th century, both fine art, and body art. From the Pop Art screened lips of Warhol, the disembodied mouths of Tom Wesselmann, to the logos of The Rolling Stones and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the mouths, and the attached concepts that are implied by them, are the keys to the understanding of art since 1950. Here, our focus is the mouth that appears to be the focus of an Instagram feed. She takes photos of her putting things in her mouth.
After we experience those, we came to a life moment, and that's where things get incredibly tough, uncomfortable, painful, and most of all, completely and utterly understandable. Every movement, every expression she makes is a fully-thought and experienced emotion those of us addicted (and yes, we're addicted) to social media understand. It's a cry for help, and her eye, Sweet Jesus her eyes!, speak so amazing well to that. She continues with her performance, and we see the reaction to her steps.
Now, allow me to unpack a whole bunch of stuff here. Those of you who don't appreciate my Art Analysis should likely check-out now.
What we are given at the beginning are the moments she wanted to capture and send. Sexy images, thoughtful images, composed images. What we do not see in those is the after. We assume, we believe that the micro stands in for the macro, but we don't know that. For all we know, she's allergic to bubble gum and that shot is her suicide note. OK, there stuff that comes after, so it's probably not, but work with me here. Outside of the moment captured, we don't know. We could easily be lied to, those might not even be her lips, but either way, what we don't see is the consequences of her actions.
We honestly don't really care.
What we care about is what we are shown, what is presented. We react to it, and sometimes we ask what comes next, often half-heartedly, but we are tied to that moment, to the view, and typically that is all.
This whole thing is a lot like the paintings of Olde where there would be a participant in a painting looking through a door, or simply off-canvas, and we would have no idea what they were looking at. We are given a moment, but in those paintings, we are reminded that these works are simply a moment out of an infinity of time, a snapshot if you will.
Here, we are given those moments after, and it's terrifying. It is as if what we would be thinking as the worst case scenario is confirmed. I say what we would be thinking because, let's be honest, outside of the "Your SO Hawt" reactions, almost all of us are less moved by the before than the after, and especially than the during. Here, we are forced to come to understand the after, the during, and we are shown how the poster goes through with it, and her reaction to her own steps. She is apparently not at all happy with her choice, and the look she is giving the camera can be read as resolve to her choices, regret for them, and perhaps most of all, determination to move deeper into her gimmick, into the eyes of her followers.
There's a sting at the end that wraps everything up nicely, by the way.
The statement here might be "How far will we go to be InstaFamous?" and there's something else that's bubbling up too. The idea that we KNOW that what we're doing for clicks, likes, reTweets is dangerous, damaging. We are fully aware of what we're doing, and like the lucid maniac, we are unable to stop ourselves. We have to. That post about our Ex, that picture of us pissing on a grave, that shot of the first bite into a ghost pepper. We know the result, but we do it any way, and are rewarded it for it with the only kind of love the Internet understands.
Of course, whether or not that's real love is another, and much more difficult question.
Megan Lee Joy is amazing. She hits it out of the park with Followers, and all that above is brought about by a film that is merely three minutes long! I can't wait to see more of her stuff!
Followers shows as a part of the Shorts Program 8 - Directionals - https://payments.cinequest.org/websales/pages/info.aspx?evtinfo=85261~78899376-35a9-4153-8303-e1557be2dc32&epguid=d52499c1-3164-429f-b057-384dd7ec4b23&#.XF2lRFVKhdg