New Thriller Is Like Dark Mirror for Cam Young ladies
In the new thriller Cam, which premieres simultaneously about Netflix and in theaters in Friday, pretty much everything that camshaft girl Alice (The Handmaid’ s Tale’ s Madeline Brewer) fears might happen does. What surprises, while, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is frightened, 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 consumer or two will breach the substantial but understandably not perfect wall that she has constructed between her professional and private lives. But most of her days are spent fretting about the details of her work: Does her react push enough boundaries? Which patrons should she develop 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 gender worker, with all the attendant hazards and occasional humiliations— which moody, neon-lit film never shies away from that fact. But Alice is also an artist. In front of the camera, she’ s a convincing presenter and improviser as the sweet but fanciful “ Lola. ” Behind it, she’ s a writer, a overseer, and a set developer. (Decorated with oversize blossoms and teddy bears, the free 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 inspiration 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 time 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 focus. The slow reveal of the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s genuine 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 bath room visits. ) And though Alice denies that her chosen career has anything to carry out with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken although unmissable feminist consideration of sex work. The disjunct between Alice’ s seeming regularness and Lola’ s over-the-top performances— sometimes including blood capsules— is the hint of the iceberg. More fascinating nonne puttane 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 of Camera is pleasantly episodic and purringly tense, the latter half— in which Alice searches for her hacker— is clever, inventive, and wonderfully evocative. A type of Black Mirror for camshaft girls, its frights are limited to this tiny piece of the web, but believe it or not resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain common of creative rawness, at the same time she’ s pressured by the machine in front of her to get something of an automaton little. And versions of the landscape where a desperate Alice calls the cops for assistance with the hack, only to be faced with confusion about the net and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly enjoyed out countless times in the past two decades. At the intersection of your industry that didn’ to exist a decade ago and a great ageless trade that’ t seldom portrayed candidly in popular culture, the film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is difficult to understate.
The wonderfully versatile Brewer, who’ s in just about any scene, pulls off essentially three “ characters”: Alice, Alice as Lola, and Bizarro Lola. It’ s i9000 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 more an admirable provocation compared to a satisfying answer. But with many of these naked ambition on display, who have could turn away