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'Look' misses the bigger picture

December 14, 2007|Michael Ordona | Special to The Times

Inspired by what the filmmakers say are the 30 million surveillance cameras capturing our movements every day, writer-director Adam Rifkin ("Detroit Rock City") finds some intriguing crevices to explore with a cold, unblinking eye in his latest, "Look." Considering the premise's potential, though, it's disappointing the film doesn't delve beyond the prurient surface.

Rifkin's comic drama is constructed of several interweaving story lines whose connections are sometimes surprising. A scheming Lolita tempts a middle-aged teacher; a department- store Lothario spins out in a sexaholic spiral; a passive office drone is tortured by pranksters; an aspiring musician works in a convenience store, accompanied by his loser pal; and a lawyer and family man faces a sexual dilemma. Meanwhile, two sociopaths go on a crime spree, and another, even more ominous thread ties several characters together.

If that sounds like a lot to juggle, it is. But Rifkin and his cast of unknowns attack the task with verve. Naturalism is key to the endeavor, and pieces of obvious artifice, such as clumsy exposition, occasional use of score and contrived moments threaten to sink the enterprise.

"Look" is really less about what is observed than what is revealed -- each story line relies on plot twists rather than being fully realized character sketches with telling behavior. The vignettes tend not to linger long enough to afford complex views. The film's eye roves.

With its emphasis on its interweaving stories, the movie offers no commentary on the phenomenon of increasingly pried-apart privacy, positive or negative. Not that "Look" needs to be political, or even particularly deep, but that nonexamination, coupled with lack of real insight into the characters, leaves one sensing an opportunity missed.


"Look." MPAA rating: R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some violence and brief drug use. Running time: One hour, 42 minutes. Exclusively at the Nuart, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 281-8223.

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