Fame. Celebrity. Wealth. Max, an up and coming artist hungry for fame, meets Sara, a budding young art critic who suffers the same obsessiveness about her work as he does his. The two begin a tumultuous relationship based on using each other to get ahead and sequester themselves in a cabin in the woods, set on creating a work of art that they feel will completely revolutionize the art world. They want to make a work of art that is alive; even if it takes their own lives to do it.
Jesse Woodrow as Maximilien Klinkau
Tamzin Brown as Sara Speed
Hands down one of the strangest, most distorted pictures I’ve ever seen, Tabloid Vivant is going to leave heads turning. It’s not your typical genre film, by any means, and the slightly avant garde style of filming will also leave viewers a little mystified. According to imdb the film is classified as a “drama, horror, mystery” and I suppose that’s about as fair an assessment as possible. Interestingly enough, the film definitely isn’t a full-fledged horror, definitely isn’t a full-fledged drama and it definitely isn’t a full-fledged mystery. It’s a little bit of all of those things, and often feels as though it – or filmmaker Kyle Broom – isn’t certain of being any of those things. It’s left-field, but it’s also a thought provoking piece of work that might leave you scratching your head.
The story, as I interpreted it, is more of a character examination than anything else. And the cameras follow our two focal characters, Maximilien (Jesse Woodrow) and Sara (Tamzin Brown) deep into the bowels of obsession and insanity. These two wither away before our eyes and it’s all a result of profound fixation. See, Max is an artist on the cusp of introducing a new artistic system that could change the landscape of art as we know it, and Sara is an art critic completely mystified by Max’s creation. But she’s not just mystified by Max’s creation, she’s mystified by Max as well, just as he is with her. The greatest problem here is that the relationship is beyond toxic. It may start on a quirky but bright note, but it rapidly spirals into something else altogether. As sleep deprivation becomes a serious problem, the sanity seeps from both and viewers are forced to wonder if either have what it takes to survive such a strange and volatile union.
There’s nothing customary about this feature, and for that writer/director Kyle Broom deserves immense praise. Somehow the man has managed to gift us a legitimately original film. But is it too artistic for the masses to get behind? Only time will tell, but that could certainly be an issue for the production as it becomes known to greater masses. To be as blunt as possible: Tabloid Vivant is extraordinarily strange. Some love strange, and some absolutely despise strange. For those who can’t stand the taste of the atypical, there’s probably no point in pursuing the picture. If you crave the unorthodox, you’ve got to watch the movie.
Jesse Woodrow’s work as the overly fanatical artist is gripping. This dude shows us a great number of looks as the pic progresses, but it’s his steady turn for the worse that impresses. And it impresses because, although obviously strange, he does start out as an eccentric but likable guy. When he goes off the deep end… well, he doesn’t just fall – he leaps. And those sentiments could be mirrored for Tamzin Brown. Initially, Sara comes off as a decent girl fighting back the inner bitch, but as we get to know her, and as she allows herself to be subjected to Max’s insanity it’s impossible to avoid feeling some sympathy for the woman. She wants to better her career in the writing field, and in attempting to think outside the box, she sinks her very own ship. It’s not the most pleasant transformation to watch.
Woodrow and Brown’s chemistry is oddly magnetic. Their relationship screams love and hate, but where it all culminates is jarring. The production as a whole is jarring. However, for the most part it looks good. The editing and transitions feel refined and the pacing of the story is well-measured. There’s no rush to dive into the deepest depths of lunacy, yet the viewer feels it coming, right out of the gate. The nonconformist storyline is interesting. It isn’t particularly frightening, but it is disconcerting, and it does remind viewers that there are people out there who don’t think or operate in “average” fashion. That’s thought-provoking, and when all is said and done, I can’t deny that the film as a whole is engaging, if for no other reason than the fact that we’ve never seen a movie quite like this.