Indie Spotlight, Reviews — September 13, 2012 at 6:30 am

INDIE SPOTLIGHT: ID-IOLOGY

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Id-iology is fascinating and different in that this Indie takes a serious, un-sleazy look at the lives of a dominatrix, a masochist, and an obsessive – and those they’re close to. The result is daring, harsh, thought-provoking, and impressive. Director/writer Will’ Terran has a lot to be proud of.

She’s so pretty, and they’re both so messed up

The assembled cast comes on-screen just as their lives are becoming deeply intertwined. Whereas some people can use their friends for support and advice and comfort, this set is more likely to push each other (intentionally or not) to the very limit. These are people who generally collapse in the face of emotional pressure.

Id-iology is an impressive movie, and also one that’s kind of hard to review, spoilers or no. One reason is that it’s a very tense film that dives straight into many serious issues. It doesn’t give you a lot of time to get your bearings, it just starts to show you what’s happening. Another reason is that it jumps back and forth between different time-lines, so we’re often in a position to see both “cause” and “effect,” but in a disjointed way.

Divided amongst 7 characters, we see a variety of relationships, intimate conversations, and struggles between people who are living deeply-troubled lives. The too-smart-and-kinda-thoughtful Charles is interviewing Anushka, a sex worker. He wants to learn more about her life. At some point, Charles invites this professional dominatrix to a bar to meet his various friends.

NOT the face of a woman who loves you.

Unfortunately, this hang-out has a dangerous combination of personalities. Brian is in a “relationship” with Lisa, who loves attention so much that I thought she was a sex worker, too. Yes, Lisa’s uncaring when Brian’s sick, but he is needy on a vast scale, and a bit lazy to boot.

Jeremy is a very rough bloke who’s gotten into kinky sex with his girlfriend, Emerald. The poor thing wants to please Jeremy so much that she’s started demanding real, brutal abuse. And the dominatrix herself is both extremely volatile and far less secure or happy as you might expect; Anushka lashes out at everyone with no provocation, even her only true friend, Susan.

Yes, within minutes, you’ve learned enough to know that these folks are up for a lot of turmoil. It will get ugly, and there will be blood.

Not making it better, are we?

All the actors have great chemistry, and I was very impressed by how credible their performances were. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already seen these performers.

Id-iology‘s not the sharpest-looking Indie film I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t need to be. The direction is crisp and on-point, even if the camerawork or film stock looks a little rough. There’s a difference between a flaw and a quirk, and if this movie doesn’t look “slick” like Closer, then it’s not to its detriment. Actually, that last film is one of the closest comparisons I can think of (besides Sex, Lies, and Videotape) – and the characters in Closer (or Sex, Lies) are all people many viewers couldn’t give a damn about.

Better still, the dialogue gets right to the point of advancing the stories and the characters, without feeling cheap or forced. Only a handful of sets are used, but they are used fairly well. The real standout setting is the interrogation room – it’s where we see that the material here is real, proper drama.

Interrogation with the 5-O

In that scene, Emerald is chilling as she has to explain all her bruises to concerned cops; her man doesn’t beat her unless she asks for it. This is one of the Id-iology‘s moments of intense revelation: characters let go and unleash the things that they’re feeling and thinking, without letting deception or false emotion drive the action. It’s at these times that Id-iology is both greatly troubling and greatly effective.

The movie has a disjointed feeling as it shifts through characters or time suddenly and often. This could easily be a problem, but it’s saved by the quality of the acting, dialogue, and themes. Throughout, I was wondering if Emerald got into rough sex because she asked Anushka for advice and instead received a curse-laden, hurtful rant. A friend tries to completely undermine Charles, and I start wondering when this moment started to alter Charles’ behavior.

My biggest issue came from the initial part, the dominatrix’ intro. She establishes the thesis neatly: in short, that a real relationship requires respect, which is impossible when a man uses her to degrade themselves. This moment paints her as a reasonable, comfortable person – soon after, though, she’s a hyper-catalyst, wreaking havoc and threatening violence wherever she goes.

a simple discussion

Sadly, Anushka becomes so over-the-top, and so quickly, that she seems a bit like a caricature. It also seems pretty likely that the bartender would call the cops after seeing her smash a beer bottle and threaten another female. For a chick who beats men for a living, you’d think she wouldn’t be so easily provoked by simple conversation with her fellow women.

As such, our provocative introductory character soon becomes the least interesting. This may be true-to-life, but I seriously hope that the UK doesn’t have a public violence problem to the extent suggested by this picture. There is one later scene where Anushka is genuinely vulnerable – it works quite nicely, but it doesn’t build to anything else, really. I began to assume that her role was to serve as the explosion that drives everyone else to (near) self-destruction.

Id-iology is a very intellectual film. It’s not pretentious, just the sort of piece with a strong thesis, one that can speak to a lot of different human aspects at the same time. On one hand, the discussions about abuse, need, and control are clearly tied to the relationships we see. But on the other, the extreme nature of these personalities suggests that the movie is also about people playing out their internal psychologies.

turmoil

What do I mean by that last sentence? I spent a short while genuinely wondering if Brian represents the Id, Lisa the Ego, and Charles the Super-Ego. Then I ran through it the other way, where Emerald, Susan, and Brian are children, Jeremy and Anushka the teens, and Charles and Lisa as the mature adults. There are more possibilities and ways to fit these people into categories. And it did all this while making me often think of The Story of O.

And, in the end, the real point of all my guessing is this: the characters are vivid, distinct, and alive, and they made me wonder about what was going on and what the movie was saying. It’s like the actors’ opposite of a Michael Bay film, and with overtly sexual topics that aren’t treated as pornographically as Bay treats… well, every element of his work.

Id-iology’s page on IMDb shows a 3.3 score out of 17 ratings. In fact, the score was so confusing, that I checked out the ratings page for the movie – something I never do – and I was even more astounded. The film has 15 ratings of 8, 9, or 10 stars; it has 1 rating of 7 stars, and 1 rating of 2 stars. I’m a writer, a lawyer, and a photographer, and I can’t understand how IMDb’s weighted average system came out to a measly 3.3.

Jelly Doughnut

I never liked jelly donuts much, and now I really don’t.

The 4 written reviews on the site, though, are much more positive. There are thoughtful comments throughout, and those should be the measuring stick you use to decide if this film is for you. I think Will’ Terran did an exceptional job, and I’m very glad I chose to watch and review this picture; as difficult (or complicated) as the material can get, you’re in the hands of a person who knows how to compose a real, smart, and compelling visual essay. I wish this guy had been in my Lit classes.

Id-iology was released through Black Barn Productions. The production company will release it on DVD later this year, and it will also be available through Amazon.com. For more information, you can check out the movie’s official website, as well as the production blog on tumblr.

♥♥♥♥

This motion picture was submitted for review to Man, I Love Films. Any filmmaker that would like their picture to be reviewed by the site should contact Dylan Fields (dylan@manilovefilms.com) and Kai Parker (kai@manilovefilms.com) with details about their picture and how they will send in their submission.

3 Comments

  • Apparently IMDb smells conspiracy in 15 ratings:

    “IMDb publishes weighted vote averages rather than raw data averages. Various filters are applied to the raw data in order to eliminate and reduce attempts at ‘vote stuffing’ by individuals more interested in changing the current rating of a movie than giving their true opinion of it.

    The exact methods we use will not be disclosed. This should ensure that the policy remains effective. The result is a more accurate vote average.” – IMDb

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