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« March 15, 2013

SXSW Film Reviews: 'Reality Show'

A narrative riff on the constructed-ness of reality television
Review by Andy Campbell

Reality Show

Narrative Spotlight, World Premiere
D: Adam Rifkin; with Rifkin, Scott Anderson, Kelly Menighan Hensley, Monika Tilling

When director and star Adam Rifkin was asked whether The Truman Show inspired his new narrative feature, in which a (boring/perfect) Cleaver-esque family is followed without knowledge or consent for a reality show, he told the gathered crowd he was more inspired by Sidney Lumet's Network. Rifkin points to the constructed-ness of reality television – notably the presence of invasive advertising techniques and story producers who goad their subjects into doing something untoward. Here, the consequences are traumatic for all characters. The humor of Rifkin's script is juvenile, and perhaps that's the point. Tellingly, the film began as a series for Showtime and has subsequently been recut as a feature-length film. A teenage girl is ogled in the shower, a curt network veep is called a cunt, and a pregnant lady is mowed down: This might make for interesting television, but Reality Show's real question is whether these things also amount to an effective and incisive critique. The audience on opening night seemed to think so; I was less convinced.

Thursday, March 14, 7pm, Stateside
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