« When Worlds Collide | Main | Benefits With Friends »

Almost Infamous

Logan Floyd

Poser (2021)

“Poser” should have been about how a young woman finds her voice through the words of others, but sadly it doesn’t quite come together. Lennon (Sylvie Mix) is in that liminal time where she’s an adult but doesn’t feel like one. While she’s old enough to drink, she still lives like a student in an efficiency apartment in Columbus, Ohio. She is desperate to be part of the city’s artistic community while not quite yet comfortable sharing her own art, so she starts a podcast in order to explore the scene and carve herself a place in it. Since the scene is small and young, the participants pay each other courteous attention, and welcome Lennon’s interest.

But things don’t add up to much until Lennon meets Bobbi (Bobbi Kitten, the real-life lead singer of Columbus band Damn the Witch Siren, playing a version of herself). Bobbi is a little bit older, all thrifted glamour and perfectly dyed pink hair and very comfortable onstage – the other half of her band, Z Wolf (also playing a version of himself), less so, as he is never seen in public without his wolf mask on. They regularly perform in abandoned warehouses or club basements, and Bobbi owns every room she’s in. It’s no wonder Lennon tags along, and takes to attending events Bobbi recommends, such as performance art experiences or art galleries. Bobbi is touched by Lennon’s attention and warm enough to welcome a new friend to the party. Well, until Bobbi realizes something.

A working-class movie about young scenesters building a place’s reputation through their hard work is not something often shown on screen, and the fact that the movie is populated with real local bands – wyd, Mungbean, CAAMP, Son of Dribble and Devin Summers, among others – means this could have been the fascinating record of how the people are the city. It certainly is an attentive exploration of a wild music town and how creativity can be encouraged in places adults can play. But the movie cheats, and cheats badly in keeping its knowledge of Lennon hidden. The script by Noah Dixon (who co-directed with Ori Segev) does very little to flesh her out. One of the very few clues we have to her is her hair: shoulder-length, it was dyed blue a long time ago and her roots are down past her ears. You get the feeling Lennon sees herself as the tag-along child, with Bobbi as the cool girl she wishes she was. Except with Bobbi, Lennon’s only genuine human interaction is through the podcast – a family estrangement is hinted at, and she has no friends. There’s some chat at gigs and a creepy one-night-stand, but generally Logan Floyd’s cinematography and Ms. Mix’s uncomfortable body language strongly emphasizes Lennon’s solitude. Even when she’s at work – she’s a dishwasher/catering assistant, so either washing dishes or bussing carts – she doesn’t talk to anyone. Most importantly, when she makes the choice upon which the entire film hangs, we don’t understand at the time that’s what it is. And its ramifications unspool so quickly there’s not enough time to grasp the full import of what’s happened.

This is why the ending is so unforgivable, and poisons everything that came before it. It’s a cruel trick to play on an undeserving participant, and the movie’s stakes could have been just as fraught and realistic without it. The similarly themed “Morvern Callar” made its own shocking choice early on, but spent the rest of the movie helping us understand why Morvern needed to do what she did to find her own voice. By putting the shock at the end, “Poser” dodges the consequences. The artists who flung themselves into the movie with enthusiasm to show the real-life scene they’ve created deserve more respect than this.


Post a comment

This weblog only allows comments from registered users. To comment, please Sign In.

© 2008-2024 Critic's Notebook and its respective authors. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Subscribe to Critic's Notebook | Follow Us on X
Contact Us | Write for Us | Reprints and Permissions | Powered by TypePad