Review: ‘Reality’ - Chris Frieswijk

21 Oct 2014
'Reality' is like a graphic by M.C. Escher: a film that'll actively approach your viewing experience and its conventions. It might leave the viewer puzzling though, as every attempt to make sense of the story is countered with ever more complex layers of metafiction and internal references. Several layers of reality are presented without a clear coherency in space and time, leading the unsuspecting viewer into elusive paradox. The film's form ties ends together in an impossible way and thereby hints to the artificial and dream-like nature of cinema.

We follow a young girl called Reality in a visually saturated Los Angeles as she goes hunting with her father. The pig her father catches and guts back at their house appears to have a blue videotape inside, which falls out along with its intestines. Reality makes it her mission to discover what's on the tape. Meanwhile we witness how cameraman Jason (Alain Chabat) works at a cooking show where the host (Jon Heder) is a man in a rat costume. Jason pitches his movie idea (also quite unusual) to producer Bob (Jonathan Lambert), who is willing to take on his project if he can come up with a groan worthy of an award.

Others have experimented with intertwining the apparent diegesis with an extradiegetic level, pointing the viewer to the fictional nature of the film, like Stranger than Fiction (Mark Forster, 2006) or the Dutch movie Ober (Alex van Warmerdam, 2006) for example. Where these films do maintain some logic and story, ‘Reality’ doesn't really, which obviously is a point in itself, but also prevents it from really moving beyond being good for laughs. But then again, who says that isn't enough? All in all it's definitely a film that makes you think about watching movies in general, and it's highly entertaining in doing so.

The Young Critics Workshop is organized in cooperation with Photogénie.