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Wanton Want

Critic:

Isaac Parkinson

|

Posted on:

21 Jun 2022

Film Reviews
Wanton Want
Directed by:
Joston Ramon Theney
Written by:
Joston Ramon Theney
Starring:
Nicholas Brendon, Jackie Moore, Phillip Andre Botello, Shoshana Wilder
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A suspenseful mumblecore that plays with destabilised reality to induce insecure masculine paranoia.

 

“We used to come up here as a place to escape everything,” Douglas says. Now, it’s more like hiding. A car drives through winding hills into the wilderness. Douglas and Veronica, an unhappily married couple arrive at the remote cabin in the hopes of inspiring both his stalled script and their passionless marriage. On the way they try to have sex in the car, but his impotence removes any chance of the latter. The surrounding environment is made to look beautiful, with hot sun beating down on lush greenery and sweltering tarmac of the roads.

 

With them are their friends Dan and Pia, also a married couple. Dan and Douglas used to work together in the fast-paced business world before Douglas left to live the quiet life of a writer. There is clear animosity between the two, with Douglas’ resentment bubbling barely below the surface as Dan continues to prod him with insulting comments crudely intended as jokes. Douglas may have left that world of toxic masculinity behind, but does it still linger in him?

 

Brendon plays this tension well, if at times frenetically. His scruffy beard, graying ponytail and rough, paint-covered hands suggest a more rugged routine which doesn’t require the superficial comforts of his former life of luxury. At times he almost vibrates with a kind of obsessive panic. Visions enter his head of Veronica and Dan together, only corroborated with his possibly imagined conversations which confirm their infidelity. A hazy glow takes over these scenes, with sudden flares of light flashing across his face, causing him to twitch.

 

Beginning as relatively innocent jealousy, his obsession only grows, fixated on the idea that his wife is unhappy with him and wants more with someone like Dan, who has already proven himself dominant by emasculating Douglas. The subtle jabs and teasing in conversation amount to something much crueler, pushing him further and further towards an outburst. Clearly his old self is still very present, confirmed by his aggression and barrage of swear words, punctuated by taking Dan’s food off his plate.

 

In tandem with his decreasingly stable mental state, is a growing desire towards Pia, who he views as acting seductively towards him. Little glances and touches are reinterpreted as absolute consent, leading Douglas to force himself on her. In trying to find justification for this act, he slips further and further into a complete dream state. A dead friend returns to provide him with absolution and Pia returns again to re-express her desire for him. The implicit forgiveness from this is evidently internal, as he sits and continues writing his script. How much of what we’ve seen has been real, and what has been penned by Douglas himself? The authorial nature of the film blurs these lines. Douglas sees parallels between his fiction and his reality, and tries to apply his fantasies to the people around him.

 

The suspense of the film is never delivered on, showing only a more confused script both within and without the film. All we are left with is the image of a sad, cruel man without any sense of self.

About the Film Critic
Isaac Parkinson
Isaac Parkinson
Digital / DVD Release