Director: Alex Karpovsky
Writers: Garth Donovan, Alex Karpovsky
Stars: Alex Karpovsky, Jamie Ray Newman
Genre: Drama, Crime, Thriller
Seeing the title of Rubberneck, and it carrying a disclaimer of “inspired by true event’s,” I had to take a gander because if the movie banner doesn’t feature a human with a prosthetic neck, then it’s obviously going to be about someone going on a homicidal rampage, or the decades long search for Robert Pickton, and his buried prostitutes.
So by announcing that your movie is inspired by true events, what could have been an unsettling reveal instead becomes a waiting game: who is going to get killed, how long is it going to take( will I need to crack two beers or one?), and why have I never read about it before? It may add a slight bit of tension, but it’s at the cost of almost everything else. Such as the case with Rubberneck, written, directed, and starring Alex Kaprovsky, which has an intriguing-enough real-life crime aspect to it but presents its self like something you would find on the Women’s Channel or Showcase during the 90’s on a Sunday afternoon.(mild spoilers ahead because I don’t give a damn)
Rubberneck focuses on Paul Harris (Kaprovsky), a research scientist at a bio-tech facility in Boston. We first meet him at a party following the hiring of a new employee, the beautiful Danielle (Jamie Ray Newman). The two hit it off( and eventually have sex), with Kaprovsky channeling the intellectual and offhanded magnetism that has served him well (and made his performances so memorable).
At first you get thrown off a bit by this happening, and the escalating sexual course leaves you asking the question “Really? This poindexter/Mr.Dockers gets to live a fantasy that could normally only be accomplished during his own “private moments”? At first, it does seem ridiculous that his attractive co-worker could not do better, however, if you have seen Kaprovsky in the new television series Girls the aforementioned scene doesn’t seem like a complete stretch that this nerdy dude takes the beautiful new girl home. Alcohol was involved however, and it was a Christmas party; and some people, for one reason or another, tend to get extra lonely on the holidays instead of viewing it as just another day rolled into the next.
We then jump forward several months. It seems like their sexual tryst was over almost instantaneously (many characters describe it as only having lasted a weekend, while we only get a glimpse of that first night), but Paul still holds on; like a needy, whiny, kid who doesn’t want to get off one of those quarter sucking childish rides you see at the mall. We see him giving her leering sideways glances at work and talking to his sister (Amanda Hennessey) about what went wrong.
When he tells his sister that he’s going out on a date, we’re optimistic. We see him in a hotel room, with a beautiful girl, but when he interrupts a gracious blowjob because he’s “stressed about work” we realize that he’s still obsessed with Danielle and that this girl isn’t someone he met online (the official story), but rather a businesswomen (who moonlights as an escort) he tips an extra $30 so she can take a cab home. This eventually makes sense because the whole time you are wondering “How does this guy do it?,” “Does he have a lucky charm up his a*ss or something,”? ”He wanes confidence and charisma, and this woman finds that endearing?” From there the movie starts to spiral towards darkness, essentially becoming a character study of a very, very sick and twisted dude that, in fits and starts, tries to resemble a more traditional sexual thriller but too often than not feels antiquated and overtly familiar.
We soon see Paul following Danielle after work into the darkness on his bike( Dockers and all) along with a backpack full of misery, neediness, deviance, and suicidal tendencies.
The film, thanks to its writers, occasionally drifts into more interesting places – there are moments when Paul is captivated by a mystery woman he sees in the subway that lend the movie a nice edge of surrealism, and there are gentle, hushed moments when we view Paul at work, patiently stroking one of the research center’s guinea pigs. But being told, from the beginning, that this is based on a real life event, makes you edgy in the worst way, waiting for the inevitable “doom” to happen.
The reason why this film keeps your attention throughout is due to the fact that the makers keep you on a bit of an emotional roller coaster with Paul. At first, you feel happy that the nerd got to score with the hot chick from work. Then you begin to get annoyed with Paul, and his inability to let go and not understand that sex doesn’t always mean the other person wants an emotionally invested relationship; some people just like to F*ck and enjoy the experience for what it was: an experience.
We then begin to feel even more pity for Paul because he is a broken, weak and needy excuse of a man; however it isn’t his fault. Paul’s childhood has some skeletons in his closet that don’t get fully revealed until later on in the film. That is another strong point to this almost lack-luster creation, in that the movie keeps you guessing about Paul’s past, and throws you for a loop until the very end( there are hints along the way though).
In closing, there are some flashes of fleshy nudity and a complete and utter lack of anything even resembling humor. Kaprovsky makes a noble attempt to inject introspection and intellectualism to a genre defined by carnage and tits, but Rubberneck is a thriller too dowdy and self-obsessed to ever be truly thrilling.