I, Tonya and the Sundance heist film American Animals are just two recent examples.
Nonfiction and fiction have always bled into one another on the big screen — movies based on true stories, documentaries with staged scenes — but these days it feels increasingly difficult to separate the two, and sometimes not really worth the effort.
Take Errol Morris’s recent Netflix docuseries Wormwood, which is about half interviews with the son and acquaintances of a man who died under suspicious circumstances, half dreamlike reenactments of the mental state of the man (played by Peter Sarsgaard) before he died.
The reenactments are so pervasive and extensive — there are whole scenes with scripted dialogue, rather than just representation of something an interviewee is describing — that Wormwood feels like a truly hybrid work, not easily characterized as anything at all.
Or consider I, Tonya, which hinges partly on “irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews” — according to the film’s title cards — that screenwriter Steve Rogers conducted with Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. The interviews are included in the movie, but Harding and Gillooly don’t appear in the film themselves.
Instead, it’s their characters, played by Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan, doing the talking, and their accounts conflict with one another by design. So we’re connected to what “really” happened, but still a level or two of abstraction away from “reality.”
These are just two recent examples among many. But if you’ve watched a movie in the last few years, chances are you’ve seen one that could fall into the category of blurred realities. If this year’s Sundance Film Festival selections in both in the documentary and narrative sections are any indication, films that push the boundaries of reality are a trend here to stay.
Do those boundaries even Read More Here