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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

I Blame Society movie review: jeopardizing her likability with no f*cks to give

I Blame Society

MaryAnn’s quick take…

A vicious, delicious Hollywood sendup, deconstructing — like a wrecking ball deconstructs — indie filmmaking, cinematic violence, and the industry’s treatment of women. Write what you know? Hoo boy.
I’m “biast” (pro): I’d kill for more movies by and about women
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
female director, female coscreenwriter, female protagonist
(learn more about this)

It’s absolutely impossible not to wonder how much of I Blame Society — a vicious, delicious sendup of Hollywood bullshit — is merely filmmaker Gillian Wallace Horvat straight-up fantasizing about violent retribution on the industry that never misses an opportunity to fail women both onscreen and behind the camera. Write what you know? Hoo boy.

Making her feature debut in a low-budget, homemade way after a long string of credits in the short-subject documentary field, Horvat plays “Gillian,” a wannabe filmmaker in Los Angeles who navigates a gamut of asshole faux-feminist production dude-bros — including her condescending film-editor boyfriend, “Keith” (Keith Poulson) — while she attempts to produce “a project I can do by myself,” ie, with no male approval, financing, or control required. Inspired by friends who told her that *checks notes* she’d make a good killer she sets about shooting a “documentary” about how she would plan and execute the perfect murder. If she wanted to do such a thing. Which she doesn’t, of course. She’s a good girl. But Gillian is a woman in need of some reassurance and a confidence boost, and she knows an insult she can take as a compliment when she hears it.

I Blame Society Gillian Wallace Horvat

Setting the scene… for murder?

Mopey privileged white boys turn themselves into Byronic romantic figures beset by manic pixie dream girls in their low-budget movies. Horvat — writing with Chase Williamson (The Guest), who plays “Gillian”’s friend “Chase” — gleefully twists her wish-fulfilling avatar into a hilariously, provocatively unlikable protagonist who might just accidentally commit bloody murder in the course of pursuing her art. Indie filmmaking as tediously personal cinematic therapy. Cinematic celebrations of violence and its heroizing of serial killers. The fetishization of women onscreen. The lazy intellectualism underpinning philosophizing-via-screenplay. (Does the reflexive embrace of Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” as a storytelling template deserve a snarky smack? It sure does.) I Blame Society deconstructs it all, and more… in the same way that a wrecking ball deconstructs a building. And it escalates to a punchline that is incandescent in its howling rage.

Brutally honest and righteously angry, this is the movie equivalent of, when someone asks, “How are you?” instead of politely answering, “Fine,” you throw the rules of civility to the wind and scream the uncomfortable, unvarnished truth. We need more movies like this.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2021’s other new films.

green light 4.5 stars

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I Blame Society (2021) | directed by Gillian Wallace Horvat
US/Can release: Jan 08 2021 (VOD)
UK/Ire release: Apr 19 2021 (VOD)

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated 18 (strong bloody violence)

viewed at home on PR-supplied physical media or screening link

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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