As with the first installment of this story, that red stuff is depicted in black and white, but honestly — Keck’s solid, thick-lined, “crunchy” art is best experienced with the full impact of his rich detail unobstructed by color. This is visceral work, to be sure, but cartoonishly so, which is to say that it hits home precisely due to the force of its aesthetic outlandishness. I could spend all day looking at this art if I didn’t…
On the surface, the narrative that unfolds in this gorgeous self-published squarebound book is deceptively simple : two people strike up a friendship and decide to transform into a bird and a flower in order to spend their lives together seeing all that there is to see. But there are layers upon layers of meaning and import to unpack…
In the middle of the desert, there sits an isolated pink house.
And inside the house, there lives a woman named Ria (Jess Impiazzi), who wakes up every morning to a neon sign that wishes her a good morning. Every morning, she stands in front of a mirror in her underwear and she asks the world what “fun adventures” it has in store for her today. She then carefully selects her outfit and the color of her lipstick. She goes into the bedroom and awakens Jack, who is sometimes her husband and sometimes her best friend but who is always a different person.
During the day, she does “chores” around the house. She is always smiling. She is always positive-minded. Every day, at the exact same time, Ria asks Jack to dance with her. Every night, she talks about how she can’t wait to watch the latest episode of her favorite television program. She has a strange habit of holding up everyday products and announcing how much they cost and whether or not there are any special offers associated with them. She talks frequently about how happy she is to be a housewife, which she believes is the important job that anyone can have. At 9:00, she and Jack retreat in to the bedroom. At 7:00, the next morning, she wakes up and does it all over again with a different Jack.
As you may have guessed, Ria is not quite human. In fact, she’s not human at all. She’s an android, built and programmed to be everyone’s fantasy companion. She’s also the start of her own TV show, “A Day With Ria.” People across the country compete for the chance to be Jack for a day and to spend their time using Ria to fulfill their own fantasies. One of the Jacks (played by Luke Goss) seems to truly care about her. Another Jack viciously abuses her, which Ria accepts without question. Another Jack is just so excited to spend her day with her best friend, Ria! (They have a pillow fight.) Meanwhile, the audience at home votes on what Ria should wear and what meals she should prepare for each Jack. Everyone seems to love watching A Day With Ria, even the vice president of the United States (played by Dean Cain).
Override gets off to a surprisingly good start, doing a good job of bringing us into Ria’s bizarre world. The house in the desert is especially a triumph, a cleverly designed tribute to kitsch that, in all of its pink glory, manages to be both grotesque and inviting, depending on which angle you’re look at it from. Jess Impiazzi does a good job bringing Ria to life and Luke Goss is well-cast as the most sympathetic of Jacks. Director Richard Colton has worked extensively as an editor and there’s a wonderfully composed montage in which Ria goes from one Jack to another. Even the film’s low budget works to its advantage, as most reality shows are produced as cheaply as possible. (Seriously, just watch the Big Brother live feeds sometime.)
Unfortunately, during the second half of the film, things get bogged down with a political conspiracy plot and the attempts to satirize reality TV become increasingly heavy-handed. (One problem with satirizing reality TV is that most reality television show already feel like a parody. No movie or book can make a show like The Bachelorette or, again, Big Brother appear any more ridiculous than an actual episode does.) As strong as the first half of the film was, the second half is a bit of a mess and nowhere near as compelling. A strong beginning leads to a disappointing (and rather drawn out) ending.
While it’s a shame that the movie couldn’t maintain its narrative momentum, Jess Impiazzi’s performance remains strong and both Luke Goss and Dean Cain do the best that they can with their slightly underwritten characters. The film doesn’t really work as a whole but it still has enough good moment to make the watch worthwhile.
This song is from Public Service Broadcasting’s third album, Every Valley. Every Valley came out after The Race For Space first introduced a lot of us to this wonderful British band. Every Valley definitely deserves to be better known, as does the group itself. So, to do my little bit to help out, I’m proud to make this today’s music video of the day!