I found Creative Control to be a frustrating film, not because of what it is– a serviceable movie about the pitfalls of technology on reality– but because of what it could have been. This flick could have been unforgettable, or at the very least a substantially unique picture. It was so close! It is visually arresting, the writing is competent enough, the direction is sure-handed, and the acting serves the story well. But for all of the big, dark ideas that Creative Control seems to have lurking underneath the journey of its misery addicted protagonist, the film ends up being a middle-of-the-plate thriller with nothing new to say.
Writer, director, and star Benjamin Dickinson plays David, a disaffected marketing executive living in near-future Brooklyn. David is a rock star; the type of guy that parties so hard the night before the biggest presentation of his life that he vomits in the bathroom after he knocks the pitch out of the park. He has a loving, yoga instructor girlfriend (Nora Zehetner), a best friend and partner-in-crime (Dan Gill), and a healthy income to support his destructive habits. Yet, David is utterly jaded with his successful, decadent lifestyle, like a nonviolent Patrick Bateman. He pops pills and chugs alcohol to escape the anxiety of his own existence. But when David is charged with spearheading the marketing campaign for a new pair of augmented reality glasses that are capable of creating whatever he likes, David falls deeper and deeper into his own twisted fantasies, namely an affair with his best friend’s girlfriend (Alexa Rasmussen), and out of touch with reality. Oh, and Reggie Watts makes an appearance.
The film, shot in black-and-white, is surprisingly spellbinding. The camera floats with a grace that demonstrates Benjamin Dickinson’s creativity and know-how behind the camera. The special FX used to demonstrate the augmented reality is equally fascinating to behold.
But when that magic wears off and the film reaches its turn, the intentionally wooden performances of its deplorable characters and the limitations of the nihilistic script expose Creative Control as nothing more than what it is– a mirage of magnificence. A masturbatory exercise in elegant pontification. And that is truly unfortunate, not because the movie is overtly bad, but because it could have been so much better.
Creative Control opens today at the Ritz Bourse.