Directed by: #NikolaStojkovic
Written by: #NikolaStojkovic
Roman hates posers. You know, those people on social media who present a facade of having an oh-so-perfect life when, in actuality, it’s anything but. Or those people who sing the praises of charitable people or unsung heroes, but don’t actively do anything to further the cause - see the “Clap for NHS/Carers” movement here in the UK as an example. Most of us have likely been guilty of bemoaning the falsity of people like this (I know I have). The kind of people who will clap for NHS workers during a devastating pandemic, then forget about them ten-minutes later and flock to the nearest beach at the next inkling of a sunny day. I may be digressing slightly, but yeah, those people. Roman hates them!
The thing with Roman (Ryan Satterfeal) is that he’s a profoundly unlikeable person: he picks people apart with a sardonic arrogance, always seeing the worst in everyone for no better reason than – and I’m quoting South Park here – “...a cynical asshole.” But, surprisingly, I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he was saying, which in turn made me question my own views and prejudices. But that’s what good writing – complemented by an equally fine central performance – and a well-put-together movie can do, right? Make us re-evaluate our own beliefs and actions, or lack thereof.
In this way, we’re put directly into Roman’s shoes, as he re-evaluates his own life choices over 24 hours. Stojkovic guides us through this in four separate acts:
Act 1: Resentment
Act 2: Rationalisation
Act 3: Reverence
Act 4: Reformation
As you can perhaps tell by the titles of the individual acts, there are very distinct religious undertones here. And if this isn’t apparent enough, the canorous choir-like score as each act presents itself and Angel Pedraza’s act 2 taxi driver being called Jesús should be a dead give away. Although, I’m not entirely convinced about the effectiveness of all this or what it’s trying to say. But it’s there all the same. In reality, Poser plays out more like a work of Dickens; A Christmas Carol for the age of social media. Roman embodies the spirit of Scrooge, and there are three individuals (great performances from Melissa Nelson, Tyler Burke and Angel Pedraza) featured across the four acts (the ghost of Christmas past, present and future, respectively) trying to convince Roman to change his ways. It’s really well thought out, even down to the theatrical construction of having these curtained acts – each self-contained stories in their own right – which complete a larger narrative and idea.
There’s a lot to like about Poser: it has a lot to say and submits much for consideration. I loved the classical Hollywood era composition and the theatricality in how it presents itself. And while Roman as a character is, for much of the film at least, hard to connect with (or even want to connect with), the film’s 25-minute runtime means we don’t have to suffer Roman the cynic for too long before he begins his “reformation”. Solid filmmaking that gives as much as you give it.