wed 12/08/2020

Cuck review - tediously nihilistic | reviews, news & interviews

Cuck review - tediously nihilistic

Cuck review - tediously nihilistic

Dispatch from Trump's America makes for a sullen and unrewarding slog

Daily hate: Zachary Ray Sherman as Ronnie in 'Cuck'

Deep from the heart of Trumpland comes Cuck, a deeply unpleasant film about a totally repellent character. Directed and co-written by Rob Lambert, the film opened simultaneously last autumn in the States with Joker, with which it shares an overlapping interest in societal outsiders pushed to the brink and beyond by their pathologies. Weirdly, too, both movies feature ailing mums who demand to be bathed by their emasculated, increasingly unhinged sons – parts taken by Frances Conroy in Joker and a take-no-prisoners Sally Kirkland this time out. (Onetime Oscar nominee Kirkland also gets a producing credit on Cuck.)

But whereas Joker stormed its way to box office and awards glory propelled by a scarily charismatic Joaquin Phoenix, Cuck instead offers a jowly, anxious-looking Zachary Ray Sherman in a sullen performance that doesn’t deepen as the film grinds along to its predictably carnage-filled finale on the grey streets of southern California. (La La Land this is not.). Suffused with anger at a “libtard” culture that has let diversity run riot, Sherman’s sexually and socially desolate Ronnie is a seething cauldron of barely suppressed rage that will need to find release – and does. We may be 80 minutes into the movie before Trump is even referenced, and even then not by name, but there's no doubt which side of a bifurcated America the movie inhabits: the film is eye-opening on that level alone even if its artistry leads a huuuuge (as the president himself might say) amount to be desired. Sally Kirkland, of 'Anna' fame, in 'Cuck'Imagine Ronnie's surprise, after an (improbable) coffee date goes quickly awry, when this shlub gets drawn into the world of homemade porn featuring the inevitably named Candy (Monique Parent), whom Ronnie dreams of rescuing so he can have her for himself. There’s enough thematic overlap for Cuck to have prompted discussion as the Taxi Driver equivalent of our time, but Travis Bickle in that 1970s classic was a defining every-loner next to whom Ronnie is just a bilious sad sack of limited narrative interest. Nor on this evidence is Lambert any sort of visionary: the filmmaking is as ugly as the emotions it describes. 

There’s an important film to be made, heaven knows, about the ticking time bomb represented by the vigilante incels who walk amongst us, and Lambert and co-author Joe Varkle’s script manages a nice twist involving the complicity that arises between the uber-patriot, Ronnie, and the white supremacist guru, Chance (a cunning turn from Travis Hammer), who has noticed Ronnie’s alt-right vlog and invites him to dinner. You feel Ronnie's sudden sense of acceptance – of the belonging he has been denied all his life: fielding the mood swings of his aggressively needy mum is hardly going to set one up for a socially skilled adulthood, and Kirkland (pictured above), ever the live wire, lands her scenes with a bitter fury. 

Most of the time, however, Cuck – the title referencing both a cuckold as well as derogatory slang for someone weak – is so busy overloading the dice that you yearn for a scene with any kind of spontaneous life that doesn't represent just one further example of the stacked deck that is Ronnie's hapless, hopeless daily life. A better film on this topic might leave one recoiling in terror; I’m afraid I spent most of Cuck rolling my eyes.

There's an important film to be made, heaven knows, about the ticking time bomb represented by the vigilante incels who walk amongst us

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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