Bug Movie Review Film Summary (2007) Roger Ebert

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William Friedkins latest film, Bug, begins as an ominous rumble of unease, and builds to a shriek. The last 20 minutes are searingly intense: A paranoid personality finds its mate, and they race each other into madness. For Friedkin, director ofThe Exorcist, its a work of headlong passion.

Shannon, a member of A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago, delivers his own nonstop rapid-fire monologue of madness; he has a frightening speech that scares the audience but makes perfect sense to Agnes. His focus and concentration compares in some ways to Peter Greenes work in Lodge Kerrigans frighteningClean, Shaven.

He begins to seem more weird. This doesnt bother her. With mounting urgency, she begins to share his obsession with bugs, and together they hurtle headlong into a paranoid fantasy that ties together in one perfect conspiracy all of the suspicions theyve ever had about anything. There is a scene were not prepared for, in which theyre peering into a cheap microscope and seeing whatever they think they see.

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The story involves this mans obsession with bugs that he believes infect his cells and may have been implanted by the government during his treatment for obscure causes after military service in the Gulf. We think hes crazy. Agnes listens and nods, and doesnt want him to leave; she feels safer around him.

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For Friedkin, the film is a return to form after some disappointments likeJade. it feels like a young mans picture, filled with edge and energy. Some reviews have criticized Bug for revealing its origins as a play, since most of it takes place on one set. But of course it does. There is nothing here to open up and every reason to create a claustrophobic feel. Paranoia shuts down into a desperate focus. It doesnt spread its wings and fly.

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In the film we meet Agnes (Judd), a waitress in a honky-tonk lesbian bar, living in a shabby motel. Her violent ex-husband (Harry Connick Jr.), just out on parole, walks back into her life, still violent. At about the same time her gay friend R.C. (Lynn Collins) drags in a stray with haunted eyes. This is the polite stranger named Peter (Shannon) who says he doesnt want sex or anything else, is attentive and courteous, and is invited by Agnes to spend the night even though he seems (to us) like the embodiment of menace.

Its stars,Ashley JuddandMichael Shannon, achieve a kind of manic intensity thats frightening not just in itself but because you almost fear for the actors. Theyre working without a net. The film is based on a play byTracy Letts, an actor and playwright at Chicagos Steppenwolf theater, that was a hit here and in New York.

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Michael is mad, and Agnes personality seems to need him to express its own madness. Ashley Judds final monologue is a sustained cry of nonstop breathless panic, twisted logic and sudden frantic insight that is a kind of behavior very rarely risked in or out of the movies. It may not be Shakespeare, but its not any easier.

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The thing about Bug is that were not scared for ourselves so much as for the characters in the movie. Judd and Shannon bravely cast all restraint aside and allow themselves to be seen as raw, terrified and mad. The core of the film involves how quickly Judds character falls into sympathy with Shannons. She seems like a potential paranoid primed to be activated, and yet her transformation never seems hurried and is always convincing.

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The film is lean, direct, unrelenting. A lot of it takes place in the motel room, which by the end has been turned into an eerie cave lined with aluminum foil, a sort of psychic air raid shelter against government emissions or who knows what else? Theyre watching us, Peter says.

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Bug Movie Review Film Summary (2007) Roger Ebert


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