“Most likely assume all the things is a gun metaphor.” The opener to the Midnight Insanity program at this yr’s TIFF, Joseph Kahn’s Bodied (Grade: B) is loosely a battle-rap All About Eve, nevertheless it’s so thickly filled with technical and verbal dazzle that no matter biting level it might need needed to make finally ends up fully misplaced. The Anne Baxter character right here is Adam (Calum Worthy), a white rap nerd who’s engaged on a grasp’s thesis on what he wincingly refers to as “the n-word”; his Bette Davis is Behn Grym (Jackie Lengthy), a considerate Bay Space grasp of rhymed insults who solely raps about gruesomely killing his opponents as a result of he considers private cracks too low. In an ambitiously smart-assed twist that Kahn lays out like a fucked-up superhero origin story, the untapped expertise of the progressive, socially aware, Bernie-Sanders-loving Adam seems to be a vivid creativeness for hyper-specific racist and sexist insults, which propels him to underground stardom whereas predictably threatening his relationship along with his archetypal disapproving vegan girlfriend (Rory Uphold) and his educational life at Berkeley.
One thought drives Alex “Child Twist” Larsen’s humorous, realizing, overstuffed script: Phrases change with the speaker, however they don’t lose their which means. Who is aware of whether or not Adam’s failure to acknowledge this notion (it’s the topic of his thesis) is a darkish irony or simply inconsistent characterization; Bodied’s bottomless urge for food for potshots, wisecracks, and yowls of self-awareness comes on the expense of the narrative line.
A ruthless showboater, Kahn (Detention) directs the film as a hyperactive, indulgent collection of grandiose wide-angle grasp photographs, razor-thin-focus close-ups, whip pans, title playing cards, gag cuts, and super-fast racks, visually ridiculing his characters at each alternative. In one in all a number of sequences that liken Adam to a sort of fucked-up Peter Parker discovering his powers (the Marvel references are too quite a few to depend right here), he sips wine along with his fellow grad college students whereas insults draft themselves uncontrollably in his head. However the film is simply as fast to lampoon Adam’s internalized racism—say, in a single-take sequence through which one black man after one other springs into the body like a slasher-movie soar scare whereas making an attempt to speak to him outdoors of a membership. This aesthetic of flash and disparagement completely suits the milieu, nevertheless it doesn’t encourage viewer sympathy for anybody apart from Grym, who by no means fails to command the respect of Kahn’s digicam. In consequence, the third act’s ostensible shift in sympathies simply feels superficial.