My rating of Bug (2006): A (Outstanding)
Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Lynn Collins, Harry Connick Jr
Directed by: William Friedkin
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Two years ago I had done a sponsored post for the pre-release publicity of the movie Bug. I finally got to watch this movie on Star Movies a few days ago. Lionsgate Films is one of my favourite studios for it releases quirky but noteworthy movies which other studios give a pass; their movies do end up winning Oscars too.
Bug is simply mind-blowing. I knew I should expect something great when the director is the same guy who directed The Exorcist [my rating – A- (almost perfect)] and William Friedkin doesn’t disappoint. At this point, I must stop and say “caveat emptor” – for most people will simply hate this movie. The Yahoo! Movies detail page for Bug shows the startling divide in opinion; with critics giving it an overall of B (good), and general users giving it a D (dreadful). Such disparity is rare. In most cases, critics will give something in the range of C and users will give in the range of B. This is a movie which truly polarises the audience towards extremes. The same story is repeated on Rotten Tomatoes. Bug is very much arthouse-cinema-ish.
What seems to have happened is that William Friedkin came up with a masterpiece which Lionsgate was sure would never be a box office success. (I agree with that assessment too.) Lionsgate execs then seem to have decided to market this as some sort of campy horror flick – the kind which has Jennifer Love-Hewitt running around screaming in tight shorts. At least, that’s what the movie poster / trailer seems to imply.
Perish the thought of the prospect of watching a flick where you can switch off your brain and watch rivers of blood flowing (despite what the trailer tells you), although this definitely is a movie so slow-paced that you’ll keep looking at your watch every few minutes. If you went in without this prior knowledge, you’ll keep expecting the cheesy music to start any moment. It never does.
But that is precisely what sets this so-called ‘thriller’ apart. There is much character development. The story is set within a short timeline, but within that you really get drawn into the character’s perspective of the world around them. The whole movie mostly revolves around Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon’s performance in a single motel room (I know there are perverts in the audience who’ll interpret this in the ‘wrong’ way); without the crutch of exotic locations the movie truly has to depend on the acting prowess of its cast. And the cast doesn’t disappoint.
Bug documents the descent of a guy and his (new) fiancé down the road of madness, eventually leading to ritual suicide…or are they really mad? Are the ‘bugs’ (which are never actually visible on-screen as the characters describe them as ‘small aphids) real or the figment of a delusional paranoid? Is the ‘government agency doctor’ a psychiatrist who’s trying to a get an escaped patient back to hospital…or is he associated with military secret service, doing research in biological weapons?
The movie, for most part, is quite idyllic. Trust me, unless someone recommended this to you, you would probably not stick around till the end. It’s the final act in the last 30 minutes of the movie which makes you admit “Yes, this movie is great; yes, all that character development was worthwhile”. The feel of the finale is quite like that of some macabre opera piece. Michael Shannon gives a really intense and impressive performance. Ashley Judd acts as the perfect foil to the ‘delusional’ Shannon towards the beginning of the movie, but by the end of the movie she is so madly in love that she’s ready to, say, set herself on fire (which she does).
A better title for the movie would probably be Snail, to signify the pace of the movie. Seems as if the screenplay was written for a play and not a movie. Well, technically, this movie is adapted from a Broadway / West End play after all. In case you’re looking for a unique movie experience, I will definitely recommend this movie. If, however, you prefer mainstream movies then give this a miss.
A quick word about another Lionsgate movie I watched recently – Captivity starring Elisha Cuthbert (she’s the only ‘well-known’ actor in the movie), directed by Roland Joffe. I’d give it a B. Critics panned this one, but isn’t half as bad. Not really anything new; still, if you liked the Saw / Hostel series of movies you’ll probably like this one too.
PS – This blog post’s title is dedicated to the memory of a now-extinct blog.
Originally posted at Youthpad.