(3½ stars out of 5)
Playdurizm (2020) Directed by Gem Deger
Screenwriters: Morris Stuttard (based on a story by Gem Deger)
Cast: Austin Chunn, Gem Deger, Issy Stewart, Christopher Hugh James Adamson, Jeff Fritz Holden McNeill
A confounding and hallucinogenic journey through a homoerotic hybridization between fantasy and nightmare that scandalizes a bizarre narrative by saturating it with filmic nonsense and high doses of thematic radicalism. Playdurizm belongs to the unclassifiable, to those unfathomable avant-garde categories that lean towards the technically ambivalent. Evidently its frenetic experimentalism suffocated with suggestive color plasticity consolidate this semi-satirical neon pink film in the structurally abstract, yet the expressive semiotics of its themes are transparent and visceral to the point of creating a gut-wrenching voice that screams in unison with its oddities.
This debut feature directed and protagonized by Gem Deger destabilizes the logical notions of filmic space-time and engenders a singular dimension that seems to analyze with enigmatic provocation the capacity of the medium to shape our reality, or rather our lives. The plot is a whole traumatic process that materializes its oneiric colors in an obvious faux reality that functions as a sort of territory to repress the sordid objective reality.
The personality of this hyper creative production can certainly be misinterpreted as severely provocative, yet its textures and above all its culminating honesty manifest with unexpected pathos a social problem that deserves absolute attention; so specifically, the artisticity of this vision of a multidimensional issue shatters the barriers of any scheme that is perceived or evaluated as a mere premeditated act of confrontation. Playdurizm has its priorities in place and never flaunts the vulgar, it uses the psychosexual function as a powerful cinematic device to explore the inscrutable.
The paroxysm of a transgressive use of influences ranging from Cronenbergian elements to the madcap violence of exploitation cinema of the past articulates perhaps too much of a maelstrom of emotion, which in my perspective reflects the vehemence of this production. Yet ironically it is also an analogy to its imperfections, flaws that are no doubt contradictorily functional but simultaneously inert and exasperating. When the ambition of a production surpasses the factual possibilities of its materialism is when inevitably the erratic moments and the astonishing moments become inextricable. Playdurizm contains in its excesses resonant ideas that fortunately never lose gravity thanks to the multilayered performances, and of course to its commendable commitment.
The film takes us through the mental surrealism of a young man who lives in a fantasy, in a meta-nature, in a form of denial with the tangible reality. This character played by Gem Deger lives obsessed with a famous, virile and brawny actor, curiously his passionate devotion to this unpredictable masculine character, played with severe depth by Austin Chunn, leads him to transform his rational space into one that manifests itself as a palpable pseudo-reality. In which they both live trapped in the grotesquely violent and incomprehensible with the antithetical version of the main character, a tantalizing and belligerent blonde girl played ferociously by Issy Stewart.
The riotous but sharp script takes us to unexpected places, where we ourselves begin to doubt our surroundings and question the ontology of its feverish imagery. The effects they generate are the opposite of ephemeral, they remain disturbingly vivid haunting your mind and soul even after the end credits roll. Playdurizm says a great deal about the intricate world of human sexuality as it also says a lot about the relationship of cinema and the human psyche.