Exposing her role behind the camera, Kirsten Johnson reaches into the vast trove of footage she has shot over decades around the world. What emerges is a visually bold memoir and a revelatory interrogation of the power of the camera.
A couple (and their young child) live a life beyond their means, putting them in a desperate spot. What will they do and what is the aftermath?
"Fraud" is one of those films that makes me uncomfortable. Not because the material in the film is controversial, but because I tend to respect the old saying about only speaking nicely or keeping your mouth shut. And, unfortunately, this just does not give me much to work with if I want to be strictly nice.
One might say it is clever, innovative, or at the very least "experimental" that the film is shot on a home video recorder, and most scenes are really only a few seconds long. So the plot unravels through partial vignettes, leaving the viewer plenty of room to make their own assumptions about the characters. This might be seen as a clever device, perhaps, but it's a hard sell.
Any movie made with a home video recorder is hard to watch. Only on rare occasions to "found footage" and similar styles really work. This one works if we ignore the fact that the dad seems to be always filming always no matter how big or small an event is. And he continues to film while questionable activity is going on, making him either really stupid or unbelievably addicted to his camera.
Simply put, there is not much to see here. It has no humor, it has no scary bits. There is a modicum of suspense, maybe. If this were an actual documentary, it may have some sort of value in that regard, but it is quite obviously not a real documentary and hopefully does not pretend to be. Allegedly the director had to tell an audience that the family in the film had not committed any real crimes but what gullible audience would have believed they did?
Right now, the film is making the festival rounds, and can be seen March 25 at the Boston Underground Film Festival (BUFF). This is not the must-see film of the festival, and it seems unlikely that a distributor will jump at the chance to buy it up. (And, frankly, with all the music clips in the background, it may not even be able to be released legally.)
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