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Movie Review: Bug

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In general, I don't like movies that feel like plays. They smack of low-budget desperation and a lack of creativity. If I want to see a play, I'll do just that. Its the same reason I don't want there to be explosions, credits, or trailers at the local playhouse – venues should know what they are. Just look at the vast majority of music videos: the people involved should just stick to making music and leave the film out of it. Unless their names are Michel Gondry or David Fincher.

But I digress (wildly).

A search for "based on play" returns over 10,000 matches, and it seems like about 9,000 of them are based on works of Shakespeare. Unfortunately, most movies based on Shakespearean play suck, with Much Ado About Nothing being one of the few exceptions. Watching Kenneth Branaugh act out Hamlet for four hours just doesn't sound like that good of a time to me, but maybe I'm just not cultured enough. As a "Gen X-er," I was supposed to like subUrbia (also because it was directed by Richard Linklater), but found it to be boring as well – and the thought of Eric Bogosian just bothers me. Glengarry Glen Ross features one of the all-time great monologues by Alec Baldwin, but also feels wildly claustrophobic at times.

That said, I enjoyed Bug. It is most definitely claustrophobic, but since the plot pretty much requires it, it doesn't feel like the filmmakers were forced into it. In a paranoid thriller, tight spaces and the inability to leave said spaces only enhance the tension.

In short, Bug tells the tale of two lost, lonely souls and how their shared paranoia bring them together. Ashley Judd, who has apparently finally been hit with the reality that starring in crappy thrillers does not a good career make, stars alongside Michael Shannon, who played the same role when this was a play. Both do admirable jobs in what many would call "raw, naked" portrayals of their characters, but the real sight is seeing Harry Connick, Jr. playing way against type as Judd's not-too-nice ex-con ex-husband (he even looks like an ex-con, looking some 40 pounds of muscle heavier now than when he burst onto the music scene some 15 years ago).

Judd's Agnes, still in pain from a long-ago traumatic experience, lives a blasé life in a roadside motel in rural Oklahoma, just drinking the days by and waiting in fear for her ex to show up. But when a friend brings over a stranger named Peter (Shannon), the two quietly and awkwardly hit it off, mostly out of their shared loneliness and need for companionship. After a while, Peter's past comes bubbling up to the surface – a detail here (he served in Iraq), a quirk there (he seems a bit too concerned with the thought of bedbugs), and soon enough the two are convinced of a far-fetched conspiracy plot (that I won't spoil).

And really, that's it. Five or so actors, a hotel room that undergoes an eerie makeover during the course of the film, and the creepiest bugs you've never seen before.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"Darn tootin'!"
"Darn tootin'!"

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  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    Loved Bug, and have to highly recommend Branagh’s Hamlet, it was fantastic, and cinematic.