Directed by first time director, Daniel Goldhaber, the film is about a camgirl who is struggling to be the very best. Things seem to be looking up for her until an exact copy of her pops out of nowhere to steal her identity.
A movie that has been recently creating buzz on the internet, specifically on Netflix. The amount of high praise for this caught my attention and I wanted to view this as soon as possible. I watched and, while I don’t think it’s awesome, I still thought it was decent enough.
The main character named Alice Ackerman, works as a camgirl under the username Lola; she is played by Madeline Brewer. Her performance was pretty good and you really felt the pain she was going through with this doppelgänger out there personifying her identity. She is a pretty resourceful character, as the movie shows her at times looking through various sites and confronting various people to find the truth. Her performance was good, along with everyone else in the film.
The style of the film I did enjoy. There are lots of bright, vivid colors, in particular, the parts where Alice does her online persona or when she visits the camgirl site. The movie does a good job of balancing the look of the digital world and the real world. The digital world is vibrant, while the real world presented here is dull, boring, and normal-looking. Something that this movie is getting across to the viewer is the dangers of being enraptured in the digital world. The addiction of trying to achieve the most followers and likes in order to become the most popular, which is something that is still very relevant today. Alice wants to get to the Top 50, so she has to do extreme acts to get that recognition. For example, she fakes slicing her throat open toward the beginning.
One of the aspects that I read in some reviews is that the movie feels like an episode of Black Mirror and I would agree on this. Black Mirror is a show that touches on the dangers of technology. CAM showcases the dangers of women prostituting themselves online for the whole world to see and the fear of A.I copycats. This is another thing that is pretty relevant today because everyone is sick of bots. They’ll trick you and you think they are being helpful or nice, but in the end, a lot of them are there on the Internet to possibly scam or annoy you. It touches on the fact that the A.I is an algorithm that researches one potential thing so that it can confuse people to believe its the real deal. This a dangerous thing that many Internet users need to be wary of because it can cause more harm than some would believe.
So far to a point where the film addresses the idea of A.I impersonating a dead person. Impersonating a dead person on the web is inhumane, especially if it’s to make lots of profit. Now there is posthumous related stuff put out after someone famous dies, but the movie plays out an extreme scenario of what potential things companies will do to keep a person that has contributed great success, even more, success after death. There are holographic celebrities out now, this could be the next phase.
Now those were my praises for the film, what about the negatives. I guess the main thing for me was the film didn’t go in deep in the actual camgirl business. The movie mainly focuses on the main character and while we are introduced to other girls in the same gig, there isn’t any development with them. At one point during the middle, they just drop off the map never to return again. There is a scene where police come to investigate Alice’s impersonator and one of them asks the same questions that I was thinking of. Which was what is the deal of this business and what do girls really gain from this. Though granted it does subtly tie into the digital world addiction which was nice, but I wanted more camgirl world building. It left me feeling kind of empty.
In terms of Alice’s personal life, there is hardly anything there. I wanted to learn more about herself and maybe see how she got into this business in the first place. Her family, mother and little brother, are uninteresting. She meets a “supposed” old friend in a supermarket. I thought maybe she was a girl who quit being a camgirl and now she wants to live a normal life without the digital world influencing her. That would have been an interesting subplot. But no the movie doesn’t do jack with her, she was completely pointless.
The ending, I didn’t like. The short answer, after she defeats her digital doppelgänger, she goes back to the camgirl business under a new name. I felt this was the wrong direction to go, especially for her character. It seemed like as I watching throughout, she would call it quits to this prostitution career and live a happy normal life. But nope, back to square one with her.
The writer for this film, Isa Mazzei, is worth noting for the fact that the plot is based on her real-life experiences as a camgirl. She wanted to write a story about the dangers of online identities and tell viewers how that kind of world can be deadly on a mental level for any addicted user. I think it is nice to see or visually experience this issue from someone’s own perspective.
All in all, this movie while not a masterpiece, still was decent enough to warrant entertainment. The movie’s themes, style, and performances are definite highlights, but like a mentioned the development of a lot of characters, the pacing, and little world-building brought it down for me. But for their first feature-length film, Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzei did a fine job here and I’m interested in what they come up with in the future.