New Thriller Is Like African american Mirror for Cam Ladies
In the new thriller Cam, which premieres simultaneously in Netflix and in theaters about Friday, pretty much everything that camera girl Alice (The Handmaid’ s Tale’ s Madeline Brewer) fears might happen does. What surprises, while, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is scared, of course , that her mother, 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 designed between her professional and personal lives. But most of her days are spent fretting about the details of her work: Does her take action push enough boundaries? Which in turn 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 sex stepmomlover worker, with all the attendant risks and occasional humiliations— which moody, neon-lit film by no means shies away from that truth. But Alice is also an artist. In front of the camera, she’ s a convincing actress and improviser as the sweet but fanciful “ Lola. ” Behind it, she’ s a writer, a representative, and a set custom. (Decorated with oversize flowers and teddy bears, the free bedroom that she uses as her set appears to be themed Barbie After Hours. ) So when the unimaginable happens— Alice’ s account is certainly hacked, and a doppelgä nger starts performing her act, with less creativity but more popularity— her indignation is ours, as well.
The film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is not easy to understate.
But Cam takes its time getting to that mystery. That’ s more than fine, seeing that the film, written by former webcam model Isa Mazzei and first-time director Daniel Goldhaber, immerses us inside the dual economies of making love work and online interest. The slow reveal from the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s true striptease— all of it surrounded by an aura of authenticity. (Small-bladdered Alice, for example , constantly apologizes to her clients for the frequency of her bathroom visits. ) And though Alice denies that her chosen career has anything to do with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken but unmissable feminist consideration of sex work. The disjunct between Alice’ s seeming regularness and Lola’ s i9000 over-the-top performances— sometimes regarding blood capsules— is the hint of the iceberg. More fascinating is the sense of safety and control that webcam-modeling allows— and how illusory that can become when natural male entitlement gets unleashed coming from 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, resourceful, and wonderfully evocative. A kind of Black Mirror for camshaft girls, its frights will be limited to this tiny cut of the web, but no less resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain normal of creative rawness, at the same time she’ s pressured by the machine in front of her to get something of an automaton very little. And versions of the arena where a desperate Alice phone calls the cops for help with the hack, only to end up being faced with confusion about the net and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly played out out countless times during the past two decades. At the intersection associated with an industry that didn’ to exist a decade ago and a great ageless trade that’ ersus seldom portrayed candidly in popular culture, the film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is difficult to understate.
The wonderfully versatile Coffee maker, who’ s in virtually every scene, pulls off essentially three “ characters”: Alice, Alice as Lola, and Bizarro Lola. It’ h a bravura performance that flits between several realities while keeping the film grounded as the plot twists make narrative leap following narrative leap. Cam’ s i9000 villain perhaps represents considerably more an admirable provocation than a satisfying answer. But with many of these naked ambition on display, whom could turn away