Ben Wild (Brian McGuire) lives a haggard life, consuming prescription drugs, dealing with friends and family who may or may not exist and being hassled by debt collectors. He’d like things to settle down a bit and make more sense, but he’s addicted to shitty reality television, video games and online porn. He’s both disturbingly unlike, and yet painfully like, so many people alive today. He has some demons, and he’s outnumbered.
In Brian McGuire’s WiNdOw LiCkEr, daily routine is not mind-numbing so much as it is mind-destroying. Wild’s cycle of prescription drugs, reality television, online porn and video games would expectedly lead to a lack of ambition, but here the effects are much worse. Wild has some serious issues going on, and any steps forward he might make seem momentary; any insights short-lived.
Then again, in its more stark moments of clarity, you understand the torments Wild is going through, and why he might be escaping through (or unable to escape) such a life. Social interactions are mostly confined to the virtual, and besides, any real life interaction is almost too jarring to comprehend (if they are even happening at all). Wild is up in his own mind, even when he thinks he’s not.
Technically, the film goes for a real anything goes vibe. Visuals are rough and tumble, the editing frenetic. It’s a film enamored with its own style, but the style works for the cacophony in Wild’s brain, unleashed for our viewing pleasure.
Which will vary, of course. I appreciated the risks the film takes as it settles into its experimental-friendly vibe, but it did take me a little while to embrace. At first it seemed like a lot of style with little substance, but if you give it a chance it does establish a greater vision, or maybe I just acclimated to what was going on better.
That said, even at one hundred-something minutes, it’s too long. Ninety minutes, maybe; so much is allowed to breath, you could easily tighten this one up some more and eliminate any feelings that it is meandering too much, or masturbating to its own quirkiness (I mean that literally and figuratively). Unless the point is to make the audience feel that way, in which case it’s fine; this sort of film is only going to appeal to a select group anyway, so if it indulges a bit, maybe it’s not that awful an editorial crime.
Overall, WiNdOw LiCkEr is a strange ride in the life of Ben Wild. It enjoys a narrative that is open to multiple interpretations, if you’re looking to put in the effort. It’s energetic and unabashed in its rawness. Its flavor is not going to be for everyone, but if you do relate… seek help soon.
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