White Rabbit is quirky as f**k, and I mean that as a good thing. At its heart, it’s a fascinatingly odd tale of a struggling artist struggling with being an artist and co-writer Vivian Bang puts on one hell of a performance as the film’s lead. Bang is simply mesmerizing in the film. It’s impossible to look away from her even though later on in the film you kind of want to. It’s one part performance piece, one part romantic tragedy, and the rest is just downright funny and often delightfully uncomfortable.
“…a fascinatingly odd tale of a struggling artist struggling with being an artist…”
Bang plays a performance artist and aspiring actress who also makes money working as a TaskRabbit. Apparently, TaskRabbit is a real thing where people can use an app to hire strangers to do odd jobs for them. We’re introduced to this concept at the beginning of the film when Bang’s character is hired to organize a child’s toy collection with excruciatingly anal-retentively detailed instructions. Soon after, a child uses her for a horse ride, and you can just see Bang’s soul being crushed and demeaned. These are the depths one must sink to live as an artist. Throughout the film we see Bang show up in public places wearing a white wig and carrying an amplifier. She performs a piece about race relations and being Korean during the LA Riots. These scenes are seriously out there, and you can see people (not actors mind you, actual people) avoiding eye contact and being visibly squeamish in the presence of such an oddity. The performance art scenes are straight up guerilla filmmaking, and it’s amazing. During one of her performances, she meets Victoria played by Nana Ghana. Victoria is a photographer who also lives the life of an eccentric artist, but with much more success. As the two get closer, Bang becomes enamored and believes that a potential relationship is blossoming. Nana Ghana and Bang play off of each other incredibly, and the development of their character’s friendship is definitely a highlight here.
“The performance art scenes are straight up guerilla filmmaking, and it’s amazing.”
Vivian Bang’s performance is simply stellar. She’s an amazing actress but at a certain point towards the film’s ending things get super dramatic. When she’s dealing a misunderstanding with Victoria, it became super annoyingly overdramatic. The issue isn’t Bang’s performance. It’s the absurdity of the character and her actions that bug me. She was very likable up until a certain point, and then I just wanted her to stop crying and get over herself. Maybe this was the intention? Perhaps showing her dramatic side was an attempt to solidify her as an eccentric artist, and to maybe explore the chaos and unpredictability some artists often display? Fair enough, but the character’s actions still got on my nerves, whether that was intentional or not. Still, the film has several amazing scenes, one involving a creepy casting director and the other involving a Skype call with Bang’s characters Mother where she comes clean about the details of her life and career to some inspiring and unwavering support.
If you like unconventional indie comedies, this one can’t be missed. Its strength is with Bang’s performance as the struggling artist, and it’s enough for me to highly recommend it, even if the overly dramatic drama really wasn’t my thing. Vivian Bang has created a character that I hope lives on in one form or another, maybe as a sequel or a web series. It’s a fascinating exploration of art and why we even bother to create it if it doesn’t make us any real money.
White Rabbit (2018) Directed by Daryl Wein. Written by Vivian Bang and Daryl Wein. Starring Vivian Bang, Nana Ghana, Michelle Sui, Elizabeth Sung, Nico Evers-Swindell
8 out of 10