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[2.5]--I don't know......... this movie just might bug you a little
on September 27, 2007
I can't decide whether to rate this movie a 3 or a 2. Bug is the film version of a stage play - basically a two character psychological drama about the lethal combination of paranoia and loneliness. Ashley Judd plays a lonely bartender, divorced from a violent convict, living in a flop-house motel in the middle of some white trash desert hell, she's surviving without companionship or prospects and abusing any recreational substance she can acquire. Through a concatenation of circumstances, she ends up hooking up with a shy, polite drifter. He quickly progresses from sleeping on her floor to joining her in bed, and in her hopeless desert he seems to be a movable oasis.
Hmm, he's nice. But we got one slight problem....he's crazy.
It's fundamentally just two people in a single hotel room getting crazier and crazier. Each moment of the film tries to make us squirm a bit more than the preceding one. The harrowing denouement resembles that of Requiem for a Dream, except that the catalyst is madness rather than heroin.
In terms of commercial prospects ... well, as we say in Texas, this puppy was doomed from the get-go. It's the kind of movie where if it were done really poorly, people would hate it, and if it were done really well, people would hate it even more. Either way, it would provoke a lot of walk-outs and a lot of negative reactions. As it turns out, it is done quite well, but that just rachets up the ugliness of the viewing experience, and invites even higher levels of audience negativity. The script gradually increases the intensity of the characters' madness, which in turn amplifies the intensity of the audience's experience until the story explodes in a crescendo of destruction, as you might expect. (Not much room for a happy ending with this premise). Bug is effective enough at achieving its goal. Unfortunately, that goal basically consists of shocking us with deeper and deeper levels of dementia. I have to admit that the film did get under my skin, so to speak, and thoroughly creeped me out, so it's fair to say that the film is quite brilliant in its own way. If Edward Albee were a young man today, he might be exploring alienation with this sort of treatment rather than through "The Zoo Story". But brilliant or not, Bug represents a thoroughly depressing and unpleasant viewing experience, and that's not going to place this disc in the carts, and among the few who has purchased this disc, a high percentage will be pressing the eject button before the film ends.