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By Mark Bell | November 4, 2013

Unemployed and directionless, Paul (Jeffrey Bielat) finds himself drawn into a strange, complicated world of corporate espionage and assassins after his friend is murdered. In the possession of a rare mushroom of great power (that even he isn’t aware of or comprehend), Paul follows his friend’s footsteps, leading him to meet up with some scientists who make him drink a strange brew, which transforms his body into someone else (Chen Tang). But that’s the least of his troubles, as he finds himself stuck in a convoluted plot involving teleportation, telepathy and anti-corporate guerillas, to name just a few elements.

Jesse Barack’s Polypore is a scattered film that throws a lot at you, and doesn’t do so in the most digestible of ways. The edit is often choppy, the tone veering from action-friendly to absurd to overwrought. There’s a narrative here, but the film often tries to do too much, obscuring its own positive elements.

Initially, the film keeps you confused and off-balance, hopping around like the channel-changing it is also employing. When the narrative begins to take shape, we learn the names of people, but at no point do we begin to care about any of them. There’s a story to follow, albeit a distracted one, but little actual engagement. Because so much is tossed in the pot, nothing has the opportunity to truly develop in a meaningful enough way.

I bet this story looked great on paper, or even potentially as a novel (or graphic novel) that could flesh out much of what we don’t get in the film. Maybe with more back story, or at least more time with the principle characters, we’d find something to care about. Or maybe the film just needed to trust its narrative and let it do the work without all the editing and stylistic flourishes.

Then again, what I may be optimistically looking at as stylistic choices could be the result of a lack of coverage that presented itself in the editing room. Maybe it’s choppy and haphazard in spots because the material wasn’t there to smooth it out. Maybe it’s not style so much as making the best of what you’ve got.

Still, the film does have its pluses. The sequences of animation are pretty spectacular, and, save the edit, the film is technically sound. The film also has an odd sense of humor about it that doesn’t always hit, but I can appreciate the attempts. For example, Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo in the film, and while I get the draw of having Lloyd Kaufman in your indie film, I don’t know why it has to be in this film; his scene is somewhat funny, but completely out of place. Almost like the filmmakers weren’t sure what they were making, so why not?

In the end, there’s a gem or two hidden in the muddle, but I don’t think the pieces always come together. In fact, that’s often how it feels, like a bunch of separate elements were jammed together with little attempt at making sure they connected seamlessly. Sure, they all serve the central narrative to some extent, but it’s too discombobulating early on and, when it does settle, you just don’t care about anyone or connect with the story anymore.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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