Noah Dixon and Ori Segev“Poser” is a confident film that blends fact and fiction and fuses multiple genres to create a taut, compelling, and thorny exploration of the relationship between creators and their parasites. Organized around podcast episodes that Lennon (Sylvie Mix) created as a way to indulge herself within the underground music scene in Columbus, OH, the film takes its title literally – playing on the awkward and ultimately anxious interactions she has with indie musicians before d try to become one of them, by creating music of his own.
“Posing” begins with Lennon visiting an art gallery, and we quickly see her at various parties, but never really interacting with anyone. Instead, she records conversations, ambient noise and even music on her smartphone, getting a feel for the rhythms of human interaction, but always keeping a distance. She puts these recordings on tape, preferring analog sound to the digital files she takes – perhaps our first hint that she fits more into the indie aesthetic than believing in anything herself. His semi-regular dinners with his more affluent sister Janie (Rachel Keefe) and a job as a waitress complete her social life.
Yet Lennon also has the idea of starting a podcast, interviewing musicians as a way to enter the cloistered artistic environment that fascinates her. Describing the Old North as modern Florence, another hint of pretentiousness, she quickly becomes obsessed with indie electronic band Damn the Witch Siren, a very real and good self-playing band. singer lover bobbi kittenit is cool aesthetic – her pink hair, willingness to embrace avant-garde art forms, etc. – Lennon slowly starts copying Bobbi’s eccentricities until, well, you can probably figure out what happens next.
While the screenplay, by co-writer Dixon, isn’t exactly revealing in its exploration of how art – whether performed or embodied – inspires imitators, “Poser” nonetheless has a rich sense of place. . If the Kitten that we see on screen is of course fictionalized, the discrepancy between what is staged and what is not is always a little out of reach for the viewer. It gives the film a kind of lived-in texture, as the performers mingle with real musicians.
Plus, for a movie that regularly creates a sense of creeping dread as Lennon turns more into a Kitten lookalike, Dixon and Segev don’t just focus on a tone, but allow the humor of the movie. Lennon’s banal existence to shine through. Her podcast feels like a number of lo-fi experiences, as she dryly tells the story of the Columbus music scene with the voice and seriousness of Sarah Koening. Of course, musicians and artists love being interviewed by Lennon, talking about their big ambitions for their music, poetry or art. But no one seems to know, or really care, that Lennon’s podcast will ever be published. Just as she uses them to find an identity, they use her – and her microphone – to feel like they’re creating important work and people outside of their small collective care and lend to it. Warning.
The film also makes the wise decision to only hint at Lennon’s backstory. While we’re given teasing explanations of her relationship with her mother, Lennon is left almost entirely on her own to navigate the world. Although his personality is limited to reflecting what interests those around him, it seemingly comes into its own when discovering and copying Kitten.
Such a singular narrative focus works well to mimic Lennon’s own personality, while presenting an impressively idiosyncratic approach. While the story isn’t surprising, “Posing” still makes for an impressive debut not just for the directors, but for Mix and Kitten as well, creating a simmering tension between them. [B+]