Saturday, November 16, 2013
A kinda likable, but socially awkward and clearly troubled man (writer/director Alex Karpovsky) spends a weekend of hot sex and emotional intimacy with his beautiful coworker. After she tactfully but unmistakably breaks things off with him, he becomes infatuated with her. Soon enough things are progressing from passive-aggressive to manipulative to... worse.
I've seen plenty of these slow-burn thrillers before, about a loner with latently dangerous tendencies, essentially a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off and do something bad. Rubberneck is something of a low-key, microbudget, almost mumblecore take on the subgenre that succeeds by focusing on drama over thrills, and doing a damn good job of it. Although all the performances are strong, Karpovsky's performance is front and center, and he offers a sympathetic take on the character. He plays him as a nice, even sometimes funny guy who unfortunately has some deeper issues that come to the surface when he gets his feelings hurt. Most of the tension is low stakes and social; his misreading of the situation and how he handles it, the ways he begins to try to manipulate the woman without, perhaps, realizing he's doing anything wrong. Tragedy does come, eventually, but it is relatively brief compared to something like, I dunno, May or The Lost. In fact, the tense and sad finale is more of an emotional climax than an action-driven one, and it strikes just the right tone for a film that is more concerned with understanding its disturbed protagonist than it is demonizing him.