Quickcard Review - 46th Chicago International Film Festival CLICK HERE for complete coverage of the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF 2010)
R U There
Directed by: David Verbeek Cast: Stijn Koomen, Huan-Ru Ke Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: NR Release Date: TBD
PLOT: A professional competitor at computer games (Koomen) discovers the realities of love and violence when he goes to Taipei for a tournament. There, he befriends a masseuse (Ke). Winner of Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2010.
WHO'S IT FOR? This movie is about video gamers who might be obsessed with their non-realities, but it is not for them. However modern this movie may be, with its “Second Life”-like sequences and subject focus, it is not made at the attention level that video games program its players into. R U There is made for those who only think they actually understand modern interactive entertainment.
R U There loses the battle to propose that a gamer’s world is dull, because this slow-moving, loading-screen of a film is itself mindless. Made for patient audience members who don’t actually understand the lives of competitive gamers, R U There features a lead who has become completely numb to the real world around him. At first it's intriguing to propose that a dedicated gamer wouldn’t lift a finger to assist someone dying right in front of his eyes. But not too soon after, this becomes quite exaggerated and lame. The film thinks that its usage of showing the main characters interact more comfortable in a “Second Life”-like universe will stand as striking or symbolic. Instead, it’s boring, regardless of how the real people try to present themselves in the computer world. Imagine how exciting it is to watch a human being play something like “Second Life.” Now think about how “compelling” it must be to watch only their characters interact, and speak to each other in textual form (hence the film’s cheeky title).
A sort of Lost in Translation for the gaming generation, the movie uses pacing that further proves this movie is not for those who actually play video games as much as its main character, even though it should be. (The film borders on condescension, with support coming from its probably outsider audience.) R U There works at a rate much slower than the attention span that gamers have been programmed to be accustomed to by their games, and at a rate that is likely too slow for many other moviegoers also. A film is allowed to breathe, certainly, but the audience are the only ones involved who can choose whether or not to take naps.
Similar to the nature of the film, its lead, played by Stijn Koomen, has the same empty expression on his face throughout the movie. Has he suffered brain rot from those who years of playing with electronic boxes, or is he just a quiet individual? It’s at times too boring to figure out. Instead of adding a striking undercurrent to this character and his stone-like nature, he just exists in his flat presence, without much dimension. It’s more interesting to think whether the creators put more thought into him, than it is to consider whether this young ambassador from Video Game Land is even thinking at all.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10