REVIEW: Antiviral

8 08 2013

The world’s obsession with the lifestyles of the rich and famous is no secret.  In 2013, it’s already been the subject of Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring,” a darkly comedic look at how the desire to be like celebrities is so great that it can even compel people to literally steal from their E! news idols.  You could even argue that, on a more subconscious level, it’s what made a new film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” both necessary and commercially viable.

If you’re willing to follow this craze illogically into absurdity, you might find Brandon Cronenberg’s “Antiviral” at the end of your line of thought.  This Juvenalian satire blended with a gross-out horror imagines a dystopian future where people literally infect themselves with viruses from their favorite celebrities to feel more connected to them.  It’s an interesting and quite frightening concept, to be sure, but Cronenberg pushes the boundaries of plausibility and believability a little too far.

That’s not to say I couldn’t stomach the film, though Brandon has inherited his father David’s penchant to make his audience squirm.  Anyone afraid of needles will find “Antiviral” particularly nightmarish as no skin penetration is simulated; Cronenberg delights in the sight of piercing needles and refuses to cut away from them.

Yet as painful as all those were, they had nothing on the excruciating plot.  Brandon also seems to have inherited his father’s storytelling woes evident in fellow Cannes 2012 entry “Cosmopolis.”  Visual talent is evident here, I will concede.  But Brandon Cronenberg still has a long way to go as a writer.  C2stars

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