Monday, January 12, 2009

Bug (2006)

I noticed that Bug (2006) received fairly good reviews. My understanding going into this film was that it was somewhere between a Suspense/Thriller and a Dark Comedy Love Story. The film synopsis seemed interesting and the cast included Ashley Judd and Harry Conncik, Jr. I felt that this film was a fairly safe bet. I was wrong. This film convinced me that I should buy in to the premise, which I did. However, this film failed to deliver.

Bug tells the story of a Gulf War veteran, Peter Evans (Michael Shannon), who shows up at a Honky Tonk in Oklahoma. He is from Beaver (in the panhandle) but is “between addresses.” He ends up meeting one of the waitresses who introduces him to her friend Agnes White (Ashley Judd). After spending a couple of hours together bantering around, Evans ends up spending the night. White’s ex-husband, Jerry Goss (Harry Connick, Jr.), shows up the next morning after obtaining an early release from prison. Goss demonstrates his abusiveness toward White before a tense exchange with Evans. Goss then departs.

The movie centers on the relationship between Evans and White following Goss’ departure. The two end up in a steamy sex scene. While trying to fall asleep, Evans awakens after being bitten by an “aphid.” This revelation leads to Evans stripping the bed searching for more aphids. What begins as an innocuous bug bite ends up as part of a large government conspiracy tenuously tied to Tim McVeigh, medical experiments, International Bankers and whatever other conspiracy theory Evans can manage to squeeze in. The movie begs the question “Is this really a government cover-up, or are we dealing with an obviously disturbed individual?”

I enjoy Suspense movies and am often willing to suspend belief in order to enjoy a good story. Supernatural elements often creep in on films like this, so I was expecting a twist that might point to something bigger than the story unfolding. This certainly can’t be just a delusional war veteran who manages to spread his delusions to a girl he just met. There are elements that point to outside forces. Am I to accept a psychiatrist who shows up alone to intervene with a violently dangerous mental patient? In the real world…no. When there are ulterior motives at work…maybe. What about a psychiatrist who imbibes in a bit of crack smoking? Now something is definitely amiss. The helicopters that are ever-present, the missing child, the psychiatrists’ promise of information in exchange for Evans…these are all issues that force you to consider a larger scheme. The absence of such scheme left me feeling used.

This film is a hard one for me to rate, because the concept was interesting and intense. The characters were flawed which made them real, but their actions were incongruous. If I were to accept the premise that this film was a delusion extended from one individual to another then I would have to accept that a relationship of two days with one sexual encounter could be enough for a person to completely suspend their sanity. The plot wove together a variety of elements into an interesting story that ended abruptly with plenty of unanswered questions. That may have been the point intended…but it felt like the writers weren’t creative enough to tie up the loose ends. The individual parts did not equal the whole. The dialogue was interesting, although it moved quickly at times. The pacing was a bit sluggish at times. Overall, this film had great potential. The writing had strong facets but the lack of plausibility (even in a film where I would have accepted supernatural influences) kept me from enjoying this film.

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