Bug – 5 out of 5
Bug came out not long after I graduated college and I didn’t give the film a chance because…well…I actually don’t have a reason for it beyond the fact the film wasn’t marketed very well and the commercial spots and trailers didn’t really show me what it was about other than the critics were digging it. At that point, I hadn’t been exposed to Michael Shannon’s greatness and Ashley Judd wasn’t an actress whose movies I actively sought out; so the film passed me by and I didn’t give it much thought till about a year ago when my girlfriend had me watch it. Recently, I watched it a second time and decided to talk about it here on my blog…
|I have the same look on my face when people talk to me about sports.|
Agnes (Ashley Judd) is cursed with an old woman’s name and, more importantly, is escaping into a world of drugs and depression due to a past trauma. To make matters worse, her ex, Jerry (Harry Connick Jr.), gets out of jail and she fears he’s going to make his presence known. One night, while partying with her friend, she is introduced to a quiet, possibly unhinged man named Peter Evans (Michael Shannon). The two soon start to develop a relationship as they find something in each other. However, it’s not long before the two people start to lose all grip on reality as they believe they are being watched by powerful figures and that their place is infested with some sort of bug…
|Agnes lives in this motel...I assume she chose this one for the black lights lining|
The two big elements that makes Bug appeal to me is the “Is it real or not?” aspect to the story, along with Peter and Agnes perceptions and the performances from Judd and Shannon. Bug is one of those films that, after you watch it all the way through to the very end of the credits, makes you think out-loud about what you saw and actually makes you consider whether or not Peter and Agnes’ paranoia was real. Granted, the film shows you that it’s not and that Evans just infected his insanity on an already broken and poorly cooping woman but the amazing and frighteningly realistic performances easily makes you wonder if they’re right the entire time.
|I just wanted to include this still of onions from the movie.|
This is why the film worked so well for me. Paranoia and conspiracies always seem crazy—that is, until we got a black President. Now those conspiracies are all the rage and Obama is apparently orchestrating everything from the Boston bombing to making America the new frontier for Mexican expansion. However in films, even the most annoying Facebooker that is, without a doubt, currently sharing some YouTube video that has “evidence” that Lizard People were behind 9/11, can admit that paranoid people and conspiracy lovers look like nutjobs. Hell, even in films where the raving lunatic was right all along ends up looking like a madman that we can’t take seriously due to concentrated efforts to let the audience believe the man/woman is insane. You don’t get that same feeling in Bug.
|Like the onions, I just wanted to include this still of Harry Connick Jr. from the film.|
Instead, this story has Agnes and she is shown as a woman who is just broken inside form suffering a major lose and is, unsuccessfully, dealing with it. Then you have Peter who, despite being a quiet, slightly awkward man, doesn’t come off like a raving lunatic (even though he is, later, shown to be one). They come off like normal, slightly ajar people that you can meet on any given day. They may not make the best company and you wouldn’t want to spend a significant amount of time with them alone but they didn’t look like the typical nutbar that populates the paranoia day players.
|In his defense, it's probably always a good idea to inspect your sheets this|
closely in a motel.
I think that’s why these characters become so engrossing and why their drive down insanity lane doesn’t come off the way it would in other films. They don’t go from zero to crazy in a single scene. You see their disease get planted, germinate and bloom into full blown, pants shitting lunacy. Yes, they completely lose their minds but it’s done at such a pace that when a dose of reality is introduced into their world in the form of a mental health doctor looking for Peter, you can’t help but wonder that if the two bug-finders are right and if the doctor isn’t just out to “get them.” Basically, their insanity feels real and it comes off the screen in a real, very palpable way.
|The doctor looks like he's Agent Coulson's brother...|
Or maybe it’s just me and Peter Evans' insanity infected me the way it did Agnes…
|"There's bugs in this apartment...also, have you seen Kal-El by any chance?|
I'm kinda looking for him."
Come to think of it…I think I felt something bite me on the back of my neck…
|I can't tell if this is better or worse than those dudes that lift up their shirts to show|
their abs in their profile pics.
This formula is due to director William Friedkin’s way of slowly building the surreal feeling of the film, and epic performances from both Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon. Watching their development and chemistry is as addicting as the story and the other layers added to the film. In fact, it’s so good that my second viewing of the film was better than the first. When I first saw the film, I really enjoyed it and gave it a mental score of 4 out of 5. However, upon my second viewing, I started to pick up on more subtext and came to appreciate Friedkin’s choices for camera shots and editing that, ultimately, create my perfect score of 5 out of 5.
|Nothing strange going on here. I fail to see the couple's insanity, Friedkin.|
Bug may not be a film I’m going to watch numerous times in my life like I do with great comedies, animated films or superhero action pictures but it will be a film that I will come back to every so often. The story, the characters, and amazing performances from some very talented players makes this an unsettling, disturbing but incredibly engaging and entertaining film.