Barbara Schroeder | 2010 | 83 min | US
Oh, Internet, is there anything you can't ruin? Marinesniper and beefcake were co-workers, online gamers, and IRL friends. Talhotblond was an 18 year-old girl named Jessi, a fellow gamer, and a serial online flirter. She became friend, then cybersex partner, to both men. She seemed to take as much delight with the online affairs as with pitting them against each other. While beefcake grew tired of talhotblond and made an effort to distance himself, marinesniper plunged deeper into his online persona, losing himself in violent fantasy. While talhotblond goaded them on further, beefcake was completely ignorant that he was about to become the focus of marinessniper's rage and the last piece needed for him to completely dissolve into delusion.
The opening moments of talhotblond gave me pause. It begins with a voice-over from beyond the grave: an actor telling us he is the murder victim of the story and is about to show us how everything went wrong. Right out of the Sunset Boulevard playbook. Or something. Aesthetically, talhotblond is a minor mess of computer graphics and canned music, but the story is so compelling that the television newsmagazine format is forgivable. It avoids salaciousness in favour of weaving a very clever narrative through interviews, text conversations between the three players, and the guiding voice-over. Yes, the voice-over that made me cringe at the beginning turned out to be a smart device to keep me invested. The interviews cover the key players in the case and offer welcome analysis on the motives behind the snowballing of the online relationships.
Barbara Schroeder takes on a lot with this film. Not only is it her first credited feature as a director, she is also the chief reporter, writer, and editor of the piece. I am very much looking forward to what she tackles next.
I will not offer anymore about the story because it provides some great surprises, but suffice to say talhotblond is a fascinating glimpse of crime and alienation in the 21st century. This story is prime "ripped from the headlines" Law and Order material. What? That's a compliment coming from me! Shut up.
talhotblond plays Hot Docs on May 1 and 2. Check here for schedule and watch the trailer here.