Share?, written by Benjamin Sutor and directed by Ira Rosensweig (from a story idea by both of them), begins with a nameless man (Melvin Gregg) waking up in a windowless room. The thing is, he has no memory of how he got there. His only outlet is a computer on which he can input basic commands. The protagonist discovers that someone is watching him via the computer, though his pleading falls on deaf ears.
However, the man soon learns how to get rewards from the person(s) watching. He must harness his natural charisma and comedic timing to entertain the audience. The more entertained they are, the more rewards he gets to redeem for food, basic comfort, etc. After a certain threshold, Gregg’s character is allowed to socialize, via the computer, with an older man who has been trapped in his room for longer than he can remember. Since the computer program doesn’t offer context or answers for anything, the lead is thrown off at first. Meanwhile, the locked-up veteran is ranting and raving, happy to talk to someone real. As the main character’s following grows, he is allowed access to different “channels” (other trapped people) so he can watch or participate in meditation and the like.
After a certain period of time, the nameless lead is put in the mentor position to a woman (Alice Braga) who is just as freaked out as he was at first. As he, the woman, and the older man get to know each other, they attempt to harness their power together and find a way out. Every program has a glitch, right?
“The more entertained they are, the more rewards he gets to redeem for food, basic comfort, etc.”
Share? uses the frame to great effect. In one fun sequence, Whitford is coaching Gregg, making sure he knows to always stay where the audience member(s?) can always see him. In this manner, the filmmakers comment on how viewers are forced to see only what the creators want. It’s interesting food for thought, though not as engaging as the true heart of the message. Is it easier to accept suppression when distractions are so readily available? This is best illustrated in the relationship between Gregg, Braga, and Danielle Campbell’s characters. However, saying more would spoil a good portion of the plot.
Gregg is excellent as the confused, then accepting main character. His comedic timing is perfect, while he sells the dramatic turns with authentic emotions. Whitford is a bloody delight, getting to let loose and go bonkers in the best possible way. He is lit TNT, amping up his natural charisma to 11, and gives one of his best performances. Braga pales a bit in comparison. She’s not bad but is less captivating and more muted than the others. Campbell doesn’t have a huge role, but her bit about how good can be found under any circumstance is both convincing and heartbreaking.
Speaking of heartbreaking, the ending of Share? will no doubt prove as such for most watching. The operative word there is most. The film concludes in the only way that makes sense, but Sutor and Rosensweig eschew happiness and avoid answering any questions. And that is also the biggest weakness. While the setup and build-up are compelling, the resolution begs a few questions: What did the characters learn or gain from their experience? Were they changed at all? Unfortunately, the answer to that last one is not really. So, why spend 78 minutes watching this story play out?
Still, Share? is unique and captivating, even if it doesn’t quite make it past the finish line. Gregg is great as the lead, keeping one’s attention throughout. Whitford is pure dynamite. His fast-talking demeanor gives way to a frustrated but well-meaning person. Even considering the actor’s storied career, this could be his best work yet. This slightly flawed film is worth watching on the merit of the leads alone.
"…[Whitford] is lit TNT, amping up his natural charisma to 11..."