Benjamin Louis’ “State’s Evidence” is a summary of Generation Duh, the vapid, vacuous generation of YouTubers, MySpacers, and Hot Topic customers that I’m ashamed to be growing up around attempting to retain some sense of dignity in.
It’s the generation that, Joseph Dougherty proclaimed: “Powerful tools have been placed in the hands of people with absolutely nothing to say.” It’s the privileged generation of DVD’s, cell phones, and suburbia, the generation that wants all eyes on them, because deep inside they lack a sense of fulfillment that this generation can not provide in its mass consumerism.
It’s a generation that has spawned celebrities from imbeciles, and caused every single person to scream “Look at Me!” in some form or another. Scott Byers is the perfect example. He’s an attention w***e, he’s a young man who has decided he’s going to kill himself at the end of the day, and he’s decided to tape his last day on Earth and likely leave the tape to become state’s evidence and likely make him a celebrity.
And he makes this pledge, and then broadcasts it across his school. Word passes on from person to person, and he suddenly becomes a phenomenon. His five friends then gain wind of this stunt, and suddenly, it’s a group suicide. “State’s Evidence” plays out exactly like the real world. One person seeking fame through martyrdom is led into a sensationalist stunt by a group of folks still unable to grasp the severity of the consequences toward this act.
Louis and writer Brown borrow heavily from the likes of “Elephant” and “Bang, Bang You’re Dead” attempting to dispense of a cohesive story arc, and narrative in exchange for a sense of randomness and futility better captured by the aforementioned titles, and it’s anxious to present some sense of chaos in youth with introductions, separate sub-plots, and almost endless musings on life, relationships, and family somehow drawing us closer, and never hitting the mark it’s aiming for.
Most of the cast sleepwalks through their roles here, with Alexa Vega spouting off about political issues that she can’t seem to deliver with conviction, Kris Lemche plays the disgruntled teen yet again, Douglas Smith is often disingenuous as the intellectual Scott, and the only actor who seems to pull off their character with true passion is Majandra Delfino as the angry and memorable Trudi, who is possibly the only truly sympathetic character here.
Meanwhile, the folks here still are never aware that they are going to commit suicide. Despondency of life, complacency of youth, or just youth of the nation out of touch with crucial aspects of life, the rampant commentary in “State’s Evidence” is crude, forced, and rough, but relevant, especially in an age where suicide on camera would be a ratings grabber on television. And these kids are certain this will be broadcast on television. Would the diaries of a group of teens planning suicide be broadcast on national television? Yes, and that’s what’s actually disturbing about this film.
The endless commentary shoved down our throats notwithstanding, “State’s Evidence” is an interesting and harrowing statement about self-gratification, and sensationalism, while exploring society’s inability to notice when some people are crying out for help.