Review by James Lindorf
Writer and Director Joshua Caldwell created a tale of young love on the run in his latest feature film “Infamous.” His modern-day Bonnie and Clyde are Arielle (Bella Thorne), and Dean (Jake Manley) rob their way across the southland, looking to escape their small hometown. Arielle dreams of being famous one day and is never far from her phone learning about the next IT thing/person. Dean, on the other hand, is far more reserved and likes working as a mechanic, he loves Arielle but wants the rest of the world to leave him alone. After the accidental death of Dean’s father, the pair hit the road, robbing liquor stores, gas stations, and dispensaries to fuel their getaway. In an attempt to gain social media clout, Arielle livestreams their exploits, gaining them viral fame. Infamous will be uploaded to On-Demand platforms on June 12th, 2020.
While watching “Infamous,” you more are more likely to be blown away by the idea of how hasn’t this happened than you are the quality of the film itself. That moves the film into a potentially dangerous area, is it viewed as a cautionary tale or inciting? It is an excellent place for art to live because it leads to discussion. Barring spectacle, nothing drives a film’s profits more than conversation. Everyone wants to form their opinion, which means everyone has to see the movie. Infamous has a better than even chance of being profitable, giving its subject matter, and the current state of quarantine’s people will have plenty of time to tune in. If it is deemed incendiary and its subject matter becomes a reality too soon, there is a chance for the film to be pulled from various platforms. A great thing for its cult status but not so great for the people involved if they want to work again.
Its premise and discussion of the importance of social media is its best element, even if it seems more generation than something that teenage lovers would bicker over. Arielle is obsessed with her followers, pleasing them, and increasing that number drives her more than the money. Bella Thorne is mostly good as Arielle. There are a few line readings that may leave you scratching your head about the number of takes they were allowed per scene. Mostly she perfectly captures the teenager starving for attention and love that she isn’t getting at home. She instead seeks that validation online, and once it starts to pour in her inhibitions and reservations about everything, including murder, go out the window. Dean does his best to keep her grounded, but it is hard for him to compete against the encouragement of millions of followers.
Caldwell was joined by his longtime collaborator, Composer Bill Brown. Brown was able to add a real sense of style to the film with his music that always seemed to be accentuating what was happening on screen. The visualization of Arielle’s social media interactions as large hot pink graphics was a great move to emphasize the impact those words had on her. Unfortunately, while there are many strong elements in the film, its main characters lack the charisma to convince the audience to be on their side. They combine elements of Romeo and Juliet, Mickey and Mallory, and Bonnie and Clyde, but they lack the charm to pull you to their cause. That one fact makes this a film that won’t be finding its way into heavy rotation on anyone’s watch list. Despite that lack of a connection, the film’s great idea and proper execution in many other areas make it a superb choice for a lazy afternoon movie, or maybe it will work best as a gateway to a discussion among families.
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