New Thriller Is Like Black colored Mirror for Cam Women
In the new thriller Camshaft, which premieres simultaneously in Netflix and in theaters upon Friday, pretty much everything that cam girl Alice (The Handmaid’ s Tale’ s Madeline Brewer) fears might happen does. What surprises, nevertheless, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is worried, of course , that her mommy, 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 buyer or two will breach the substantial but understandably imperfect wall that she has constructed between her professional and private lives. But most of her days are spent worrying about the details of her work: Does her react push enough boundaries? Which usually patrons should she grow relationships with— and at which in turn others’ expense? Can the girl ever be online enough to crack her site’ s Top 50?
Alice is a making love worker, with all the attendant dangers and occasional humiliations— and this moody, neon-lit film do not shies away from that reality. But Alice is also an artist. In front of the camera, she’ s a convincing celebrity and improviser as the sweet but fanciful “ Lola. ” Behind it, she’ s a writer, a director, and a set developer. (Decorated with oversize plants and teddy bears, the spare bedroom that she uses as her set appears to be themed Barbie After Hours. ) So when the unimaginable happens— Alice’ s account can be hacked, and a doppelgä nger starts performing her act, with less originality but more popularity— her indignation is ours, also.
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, while the film, written by former webcam model Isa Mazzei and first-time director Daniel Goldhaber, immerses us in the dual economies of intimacy work and online focus. The slow reveal on the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s genuine striptease— all of it surrounded by an aura of authenticity. (Small-bladdered Alice, for example , constantly apologizes to her clients for the frequency of her bathroom visits. ) And though Alice denies that her selected career has anything to perform with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken although unmissable feminist consideration of sex work. The disjunct between Alice’ s appearing regularness and Lola’ ersus over-the-top performances— sometimes involving blood capsules— is the tip of the iceberg. More attractive is the sense of security and control that webcam-modeling allows— and how illusory that can become when male entitlement gets unleashed out of social niceties.
If the first half webcam sesso of Camshaft is pleasantly episodic and purringly tense, the latter half— in which Alice searches for her hacker— is clever, resourceful, and wonderfully evocative. A sort of Black Mirror for camshaft girls, its frights will be limited to this tiny slice of the web, but no less resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain standard of creative rawness, even while she’ s pressured by the machine in front of her being something of an automaton their self. And versions of the arena where a desperate Alice calling the cops for assistance with the hack, only to be faced with confusion about the net and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly played out out countless times before two decades. At the intersection of industry that didn’ t exist a decade ago and an ageless trade that’ h seldom portrayed candidly in popular culture, the film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is difficult 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’ s i9000 villain perhaps represents considerably more an admirable provocation than the usual satisfying answer. But with many of these naked ambition on display, who could turn away