Film Review: Cam
Director: Daniel Goldhaber
Writers: Isa Mazzei
Stars: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters
CAM will be gracing the netflix screens and limited cinemas on November 16 and quite simply it is not to be missed.
A psychological thriller in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock, CAM trains it’s uniquely insightful eye on the world of cam girls. Oftentimes, sex workers are portrayed as somehow damaged or forced into the profession by desperate times. Written by Isa Mazzei, a former cam girl herself, CAM presents us with a woman who chooses to be a sex worker because she can, because she enjoys it and enjoys the amount of money she earns from it. Alice works for FreeGirlsLive.com because she is a strong, self possessed woman who has made an informed decision about her current career and it’s refreshing. Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale) is absolutely magnetic in the role of Alice. Like any woman, Alice has many sides to her and Brewer manages to showcase each of these with ease, believability and a cohesiveness that is hard to balance. With her mom, she is a nervous, nail biting daughter who seems to require constant advice, with the other cam girls, she is just this side of salty in order to not be pegged as an easy target and when she inhabits her online persona of Lola, she is incredibly confident, yet accessibly sexy in a way that is intoxicating. She’s adorable, but no push over.
We meet Alice when she is working diligently to crack the Top 50 girls on FGL and she has a room in her house completely devoted to the task. In fact, the cam room is put together with so much love and care while the rest of her home is stacked with moving boxes and furniture that is still in plastic wrap. Alice takes her role as Lola seriously and this is portrayed in such a great way. Careful to avoid the common pitfalls of characterizing all men as lecherous predators and all sex workers as unwilling victims, CAM still slyly comments on the fact that women’s looks are treated as a commodity, regardless of profession or social standing, and women are just as guilty as men of leaning into that cattiness that seems to be born and bred into each one of us. Alice has a friend within the cam girl community, but when she visits the Cam Girl Clubhouse, it’s very clear that it’s every woman for herself because they’re all just trying to reach that number one spot: by any means possible.
After finally achieving her goal, Alice wakes up to find that someone who looks exactly like her has taken over her account and she cannot gain access to it, nor can she find this doppelgänger who appears to be filming in the very room that Alice is siting in. Its a true mind fuck both for the viewer and Alice. After a few tests to prove that this is really happening and no just fabricated in her imagination, she goes down a twisty-turny, paranoia inducing road that is both mind bending and suspenseful. With the bulk of the film resting on Brewer’s shoulders, this could have all easily turned into a murky mess of social commentary with a side of Brian DePalma, but Brewer commands that you keep your eyes on her while she does even the most innocuous daily things. The utilization of the sounds of computer alerts and keyboard typing are woven in so expertly, that they are as much a facet of creating suspense as Brewer’s doe-eyed and manic expressions. Director Daniel Godhaber’s feature debut, CAM is a beautiful and sharp take on the buying and selling of our online personalities and the dangers of becoming too invested in a superficial existence.
Lisa Fremont | Twitter: @lcfremont
Images: BHFF & IMDb