ALONE WITH HER (2007)
Starring Colin Hanks, Ana Claudia Talancon, Jordana Spiro, Jonathon Trent, Alex Boling, Mel Gorham, Ashley McCarthy and Christina Suavé.
Screenplay by Eric Nicholas.
Directed by Eric Nicholas.
Distributed by IFC Films. 78 minutes. Not Rated.
In the modern age, voyeurism is easy. There are webcams, the internet, industrial mikes and spy equipment that the most sophisticated spy could only dream of a couple of decades ago – all easily attainable and surprisingly cheap.
The world sometimes seems to be at a weird tipping point where people are more and more becoming watchers rather than doers. Why go out and meet people when you can do it anonymously in chat rooms?
There is a very dark side to this. When there are cameras recording your every move, whether in a bank or a store or on the street – can we expect any privacy? Who is watching us at any given moment? There are more than you know and much more than you’d be comfortable with.
Alone With Her is a dark cautionary tale about these mindsets. It is a stalker film from the mind of a stalker. Not only do we see his point-of-view… we only see what he sees. The entirety of the film is taped on video surveillance equipment (or, at the very least, it is filmed to seem so.)
This seems almost like a stunt at first, much like the hand-held cameras of Blair Witch Project several years ago. However what at first seems like it will become cloying turns out to be strangely seductive. The viewer gets a weird voyeuristic thrill in watching it all unfold, plus a queasy unsettled feeling that we know more than we should – more than the woman who is being watched does – and yet have no way of warning her. We become oddly complicit.
This movie is essentially a two person piece (well okay, there is one significant supporting role) and the acting is pretty amazing.
The stalker is played Colin Hanks. With this film, Orange County and King Kong, he has already shown a range like his famous acting dad Tom. The role is a tricky one to pull off – by necessity with the film’s format, he is off-screen much of the time. Often we only hear his reactions. Then, when he does make appearances it becomes startling, we see him acting to her and acting towards us. We know he is depraved but he is trying so hard to project a normal veneer that we watch the cracks in his stories appearing with dread.
Ana Claudia Talancon is his prey – a beautiful Latina who is just getting over a break-up when this guy starts appearing in her life. She does not know that he has been filming her with a video cam and soon has fully wired her apartment. To her, the guy is just a nice-if-slightly-awkward person. (The one possible quibble I have with the storyline is that she is the one who breaks the ice with him – more than once.) Still, she also has an early uneasy feeling about the guy, one she finds easier and easier to overlook.
He uses what he learns from his surveillance to woo her, sharing favorite bands and movies and interests. Soon they have become friends, but of course with a beauty like her, other guys start circling – a development that disturbs him and causes his actions to become more and more desperate. In the meantime, her best friend (Jordana Spiro) is starting to have suspicions about this odd guy who has wormed his way into her life.
Alone With Her has no easy answers to the problem of our increased lack of privacy. It just offers a cautionary tale and comes out with a surprisingly disturbing thriller.
Alone With Her is also at the forefront of a new release strategy. Within days of its New York theatrical release, it will be available pay-per-view on Video on Demand. (This plan is not quite as radical as Steven Soderburgh’s Bubble, which was released in theaters, on video and pay-per-view the same week.) It’s a good way to get a small film that may fly under the radar out to people, but Alone With Her is still worthy of a wider theatrical release as well. Hopefully, it will get that chance. (1/07)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 9, 2007.