New Thriller Is Like Dark Mirror for Cam Girls
In the new thriller Camera, which premieres simultaneously on Netflix and in theaters in Friday, pretty much everything that camera girl Alice (The Handmaid’ s Tale’ s Madeline Brewer) fears might happen does. What surprises, even though, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is reluctant, of course , that her mom, younger brother, and the associated with their small town in New Mexico will discover her night job. And she’ s probably not alone in her worries that a customer or two will breach the substantial but understandably imperfect wall that she has designed between her professional and private lives. But most of her days are spent worrying about the details of her work: Does her take action push enough boundaries? Which usually patrons should she progress relationships with— and at which others’ expense? Can the girl ever be online enough to crack her site’ s Top 50?
Alice is a love-making worker, with all the attendant risks and occasional humiliations— and this moody, neon-lit film do not shies away from that simple fact. But Alice is also an artist. In front of the camera, she’ s a convincing actress and improviser as the sweet but fanciful “ Lola. ” Behind it, she’ s a writer, a home, and a set developer. (Decorated with oversize plants and teddy bears, the spare bedroom that she uses as her set seems to be themed Barbie After Hours. ) So when the unimaginable happens— Alice’ s account is hacked, and a doppelgä nger starts performing her act, with less creativity but more popularity— her indignation is ours, too.
The film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is hard to understate.
But Cam takes its period getting to that mystery. That’ s more than fine, as the film, written by past webcam model Isa Mazzei and first-time director Daniel Goldhaber, immerses us inside the dual economies of gender work and online attention. The slow reveal in the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s true striptease— all of it surrounded by a great aura of authenticity. (Small-bladdered Alice, for example , constantly apologizes to her clients for the frequency of her bathroom visits. ) sex cam And though Alice denies that her selected career has anything to carry out with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken nonetheless unmissable feminist consideration of sex work. The disjunct between Alice’ s appearing regularness and Lola’ ersus over-the-top performances— sometimes regarding blood capsules— is the suggestion of the iceberg. More fascinating is the sense of safety and control that webcam-modeling allows— and how illusory that can become when individual entitlement gets unleashed from social niceties.
If the first half of Camera is pleasantly episodic and purringly tense, the latter half— in which Alice searches for her hacker— is clever, resourceful, and wonderfully evocative. A kind of Black Mirror for camshaft girls, its frights are limited to this tiny slice of the web, but believe it or not resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain regular of creative rawness, while she’ s pressured by the machine in front of her to become something of an automaton herself. And versions of the arena where a desperate Alice calls the cops for assistance with the hack, only to become faced with confusion about the internet and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly performed out countless times during the past two decades. At the intersection of the industry that didn’ capital t exist a decade ago and an ageless trade that’ s seldom portrayed candidly in popular culture, the film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is hard to understate.
The wonderfully versatile Coffee maker, who’ s in just about any scene, pulls off essentially three “ characters”: Alice, Alice as Lola, and Bizarro Lola. It’ s a bravura performance that flits between several realities while keeping the film grounded as the plot twists make narrative leap following narrative leap. Cam’ ersus villain perhaps represents considerably more an admirable provocation than the usual satisfying answer. But with many of these naked ambition on display, who also could turn away