New Thriller Is Like Black color Mirror for Cam Girls

In the new thriller Cam, which premieres simultaneously in Netflix and in theaters about Friday, pretty much everything that camshaft girl Alice (The Handmaid’ s Tale’ s Madeline Brewer) fears might happen does. What surprises, nevertheless, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is afraid, of course , that her mom, younger brother, and the associated with their small town in New Mexico will discover her night job. And she’ s probably not alone in her worries that a client or two will breach the substantial but understandably imperfect wall that she has designed between her professional and private lives. But most of her days are spent worrying about the details of her work: Does her action push enough boundaries? Which will patrons should she cultivate relationships with— and at which will others’ expense? Can she ever be online enough to crack her site’ s Top 50?

Alice is a love-making worker, with all the attendant dangers and occasional humiliations— which moody, neon-lit film do not shies away from that fact. But Alice is also an artist. In front of the camera, she’ s a convincing presenter and improviser as the sweet but fanciful “ Lola. ” Behind it, she’ s a writer, a home, and a set custom made. (Decorated with oversize flowers and teddy bears, the spare bedroom that she uses as her set seems to be themed Barbie After Hours. ) So when the unimaginable happens— Alice’ s account is hacked, and a doppelgä nger starts performing her act, with less inspiration but more popularity— her indignation is ours, as well.

The film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is not easy to understate.
But Cam takes its period getting to that mystery. That’ s more than fine, while the film, written by previous webcam model Isa Mazzei and first-time director Daniel Goldhaber, immerses us in the dual economies of sex work and online attention. The slow reveal in the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s genuine striptease— all of it surrounded by an aura of authenticity. (Small-bladdered Alice, for example , constantly apologizes to her clients for the frequency of her bath room visits. ) And though Alice denies that her chosen career has anything to carry out with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken but unmissable feminist consideration of sex work. The disjunct between Alice’ s appearing to be regularness and Lola’ ersus over-the-top performances— sometimes involving blood capsules— is the idea of the iceberg. More interesting is the sense of safe practices and control that webcam-modeling allows— and how illusory that can become when male entitlement gets unleashed from social niceties.

If the first half of Cam is pleasantly episodic and purringly tense, the latter half— in which Alice searches for her hacker— is clever, inventive, and wonderfully evocative. A type of Black Mirror for cam girls, its frights are limited to this tiny cut of the web, but believe it or not resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain regular of creative rawness, even as she’ s pressured by machine in front of her for being something of an automaton herself. And versions of the picture where a desperate Alice telephone calls the cops for help with the hack, only to be faced with confusion about the net and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly performed out countless times in the past two decades. At the intersection of your industry that didn’ testosterone levels exist a decade ago and a great ageless trade that’ h seldom portrayed candidly in popular culture, the film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is not easy to understate.

The wonderfully versatile Brewer, who’ s in virtually every scene, pulls off essentially three “ characters”: Alice, Alice as Lola, and Bizarro Lola. It’ t a bravura performance that flits between several facts while keeping the sex.com film grounded as the plot changes make narrative leap after narrative leap. Cam’ s i9000 villain perhaps represents more an admirable provocation compared to a satisfying answer. But with many of these naked ambition on display, who also could turn away