Reviews

Monday, October 22, 2007

Audience of One

Director: Mike Jacobs
Starring: Richard Gazowsky
Producers: Michael Jacobs, Zack Sanders, Matthew Woods
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 88 min
Country of Origin: USA
read my spoiler disclaimer



reviewed by Andrew James
at Toronto After Dark Festival

      As we've stated here at Movie Patron (on the cinecasts and otherwise), we're not too big on the documentaries. There are a fair number out there that are truly great and have something to say and say it well. Most of them on the other hand, tend to get their point across right away and then hammer it and hammer it until it just becomes a droning diatribe of the same information over and over again. While Audience of One is not this exactly, I do feel like most of what you see in the trailer is all you need to see.

      A pentecostal minister claims to have gotten a message from God that told him he is to make a big budget, special effects movie that preaches the word of God. Sort of like Joseph meets Star Wars. He mortgages his house, bends rules, white lies a little bit in order to get the production under way. With no finalized financing, he begins work with mostly just his family and church congregation as volunteer crewmen. Luckily, a second camera crew is there to document the whole thing and this is what we are treated to on screen.

      If you've ever seen the documentary Lost in La Mancha which chronicles Terry Gilliam's disastrous filming of his Don Quixote story, you'll sort of know what to expect with Audience of One. The difference between the two, is that in La Mancha, the film makers and crew actually know what they're doing and it is just plain bad luck that things go wrong. With Audience, the director/producer brings everything upon himself by not hiring proper camera operators and crew technicians.

      We soon see the delusional mind of this pastor as time progresses. His ambitions get higher and higher, while his chances for success get smaller and smaller. It's becoming apparent that financing isn't coming, yet he still pushes on and buys expensive equipment and convinces studios that the rent is coming.

      At first, I felt a bit of pity and even felt like rooting for this guy as his passion and determination are truly inspiring. Though I'm not a particularly religious person, I don't fault people for their beliefs and even see religion as more or less a good thing. But there is a fine line between faith and disillusionment. When a man can't see logic in anything he does and spends most of his production time singing Christian songs with his crew, he only has himself to blame when things don't work out well. Trying to convince a bank that they should give him money because God says so and that they should just believe is not spiritual or faithful; it's assinine.

      There are several interesting aspects about the film. Time lapse photography of an entire day of shooting on set in which literally nothing gets done being one good example. As more and more disasters strike, more craziness becomes evident as the pastor proclaims, "We are going to shoot this movie. Camera or no camera!"

      By the end, things get absolutely absurd. The proclamations by the minister are so ridiculously over the top and the chantings and songs of his congregation become downright frightful. In almost every scene during these so called "services," you can usually spot one or two people in the room legitimately creeped out or even fearful of what they're seeing before them. I have to admit, had I been in the room, I might've run for cover myself. These are the scenes that really delivered something special to this documentary.

      My problem is that so much of the movie is just sort of the same thing over and over again. For instance, I get it: the rocks that compile the set don't quite fit right. Why does the camera have to linger on this problem for ten minutes? Some of the statements and happenings could be interesting to some, but for me, they are stating the obvious and just don't pique my interest.

      It's difficult to pinpoint why I have such a personal bias against documentaries. As I said, this one definitely has its moments and the jaw dropping behavior by some of the people involved is fun to watch, but I guess I just prefer fictionalized drama over real drama. I'm sure that I'm in the minority here and that Audience of One really has some true merit. But personally, an extended version of the trailer (below) would have been enough for me. Once I get the gist, I just become disinterested. But again, that just me as an audience of one.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer


Links:
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER profile for Audience of One







andrew@moviepatron.com
Posted by Andrew James in
Review

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