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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Posers
Posers
Arts Alliance America // R // March 30, 2004
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Robert Spuhler | posted April 20, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Generally, a quality thriller or suspense movie will give the audience clues to the outcome throughout the show. When done properly, the clues will all come together at the end of the film to solve the mystery. A character study, meanwhile, fully explores the motivations and thought process of a character by showing how (s)he responds to stimuli.

Posers is somewhere in between, becoming the cliché "jack of all trades." It takes a run at establishing interesting characters, but it can't sustain them through the entire film because is descends into a run-of-the-mill who-done-it, one that can't keep it's own story straight.

A group of four twenty-something women attack a woman in a club restroom for stealing the boyfriend of the group's leader, Love (Stefanie Von Pfetten). But when Love turns up dead just days later, suspicions arise. Was the murderer the ex-boyfriend, or one of the three women?

Writer/director Katie Tallo created four distinct characters within the clique in order to explore the group dynamic. Adria (Jessica Pare) is the conscience, Ruth (Emily Hampshire) is the lackey, Love is the leader and Vonny (Sarain Boylan) is the loose cannon. But as the plot unravels, the characteristics are blurred and, eventually, lost. Each character ends up as this cardboard-cutout "Valley girl" archetype.

As the characters get mixed-up, so does the plot. The twists and turns seem to come without rhyme or reason and completely unmotivated. The film's final sequence, which should produce gasps from the audience, instead produces either scratched heads or groans.

There can be no doubt that Posers was shot on the cheap. Adria's constant voiceover – told as if the film was a flashback, but without details she could ever actually know on occasion – has a slight echo that would likely come from being recorded in a bad sound booth. The camera rarely moves in anything but a hand-held manner.

That's not to say that the film is a complete waste. Pare is captivating as Adria, falling in over her head with this distaff gang. Von Pfetten's ice princess routine as Love doesn't get enough screen time to shine thanks to an untimely end (think Jennifer Lopez in Jersey Girl, except with talent), but her few minutes are compelling.

The most impressive part of Posers, considering it's independent status, is the music. Serge Cote's industrial score works in the nightclub and in the apartment, daytime or night, without ever becoming intrusive or missing the point of the scene. That a film like this with a limited budget can end up with a score that works so well is a tribute both to the composer and the film's producers, John Hamilton and Chantal Ling (the latter a partner with Tallo for the Canadian production company Bossy Pictures).

The DVD

Video:

The movie was shot in 1.33:1, as it is presented here. Director of Photography Claudine Sauve must have done a great deal of work to get good, usable footage in the dark nightclub scenes, but that work is lost in several places on this disc - there is a sizeable amount of film grain present in darker scenes. Otherwise, the picture is clean, though not outstanding.

Sound:

The film's sound might be the best part of the transfer. It's a Dolby stereo track that comes across powerfully in the nightclub scenes, even if it is rarely used anywhere else. The dialogue is clean and crisp. Extras:

This disc is bare. No featurettes, no filmographies and no trailers. There aren't even menus or chapter breaks. This is even though the box claims that the DVD has a trailer and Spanish subtitles. It is amazing to see this happen on a release from an independent studio. There would seem to be no better publicity for other projects (Tallo has one other feature film, Juiced, to her name) than trailers, conversations, even just a written "Coming Attractions" page on a disc that reaches an audience already interested.

Final Thoughts:

The characters and settings of Posers are good enough to stand on their own merits. Unfortunately, on top of what would have been an interesting, admittedly quieter film, Tallo has shoe-horned a murder mystery and compensated by trying to "surprise" the viewer at every turn. The plot only succeeds in confusing a perfectly good story in the making.

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