Infamous

****

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Infamous
"A glossy, upbeat immorality tale of our times."

The revolution will not be televised. Thus spake Gil Scott Heron, a lifetime ago, and time has, broadly, proven him right. Because while the insurgence is percolating, erupting into messy confrontations on the street, it will be filmed as gladiatorial spectacle, and therefore not revolution. Here we have the good folk upholding law ‘n’ order struggling valiantly to hold the line: and over there, antifa, anarchists and all the rest of the rotters!

Whereas when the revolution finally comes , those running the TV stations will likely be first up against the wall, and consequently have little time on their hands to film anything.

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So it will not be televised. But the last decade or two strongly suggests it will be played out on social media, acting both as catalyst and primary channel for reporting on latest happenings. And if revolution, why not a life of crime?

Because if it’s all about the likes, what’s not to like about dramatic first hand footage of a robbery in progress? That, in a nutshell, is the premise of Infamous, a glossy, upbeat immorality tale of our times. Arielle (Bella Thorne) and Kyle (Michael Sirow) are the Bonnie and Clyde duo on the run after both find themselves royally worked over by fate. Or destiny. Or something.

At any rate, Arielle is escaping from a gross and abusive step-parent: and Kyle, too, suffers for the fact that his father is a bully and a drunk.

This is a crime caper with more than a nod to earlier treatments of the Bonnie and Clyde story: and like that, is great viewing so long as you don’t mind the fact that the capering here centres on armed robbery and the cold-blooded killing of anyone who gets in the way of our larcenous twosome.

Or rather, anyone who gets in the way of Arielle. Because though Kyle is introduced as the bad boy to watch out for, one gets the distinct impression that were it not for some unhappy life twists, he would be more than happy to settle down as good-natured boy next door. I wasn’t quite counting, but from memory, just one of the not inconsiderable body count can be chalked up to Kyle: and then he was only protecting his girlfriend.

Whereas Arielle - oh, Arielle! She has been dealt some duff cards by life. Her response, though is to get angry and, given the chance, to get even. She is tough, dangerous, and takes to the crime life like a duck to slaughter.

A duck, that is, that happens to get a sexual frisson from all things gun related, near has an orgasm the first time they rob a liquor store and – to Kyle’s puzzlement – insists on recording their exploits for her insta channel. Let’s unpick that: the focus of this film is on Arielle. Kyle is not so much undeveloped, as nice - and with a few exceptions, nice guys don’t make for interesting screentime. As for pretty much everyone else: well they are just so much cannon fodder, on whom Arielle gets to practice her newfound shooting skills.

The one exception to this is Elle (Amber Riley), whom the couple briefly take hostage and who provides interesting commentary on ordinary people’s take on fame and notoriety.

And in the end, this is what it is all about for Arielle. She is that rarity: a screen bad girl allowed to revel in her badness. A modern day Audrey/Lulu out of Something Wild (1986), a film in which John Waters enjoyed inverting the natural order of things - but without the good girl denouement. Not for her the comedown all too common in Hayes code days: the femme fatale getting her just desserts in the final reel.

Because even if things don’t quite work out the way she hoped, she still ends up famous. Or infamous, which was the point of the film from the beginning. Wasn’t it?

I am going to confess. I thoroughly enjoyed this film for its pace, its cynicism, its archness, and for Arielle’s wicked sense of humour, crossed with an ingénue’s vulnerability. I loved, too, the soundtrack, which was upbeat as probably it should not be, and added subtle commentary to the on-screen action.

For all of these, a chef’s kiss to writer/director Joshua Caldwell.

Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2020
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Infamous packshot
Two young lovers rob their way across the southland, posting their exploits to social media, and gaining fame and followers as a result.

Director: Joshua Caldwell

Writer: Joshua Caldwell

Starring: Bella Thorne, Jake Manley, Amber Riley, Michael Sirow, Melissa Coughlan

Year: 2020

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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