Unknown White Male

"Excellent"

Unknown White Male Review


In many cases of modern cinema, myth becomes marketing for movies. It worked for The Blair Witch Project when there was a myth that it had all really happened, and it worked for The Brown Bunny when it was discovered that Chloe Sevigny really gave director/writer/star Vincent Gallo a blowjob on screen. Those are extreme cases, but a solid year before Brokeback Mountain came out, we heard rumors that there was a scene where Jake Gyllenhal and Heath Ledger had sex. With Rupert Murray's Unknown White Male, the idea hits another extreme: Instead of admitting that the film is indeed a fraud, as the people behind Blair Witch did eventually, Murray is steadfast in the fact that this is a documentary, nothing mock about it.

In the summer of 2003, a man lost his identity within a 35 hour spread of time. He woke up on a subway in Coney Island with summer clothes on and a backpack over his shoulder. After turning himself into the police (and subsequently, Coney Island Hospital), the man eventually was identified as Doug Bruce, by an ex-girlfriend and her mother. Doctors were interviewed and expertly explained that Doug had an extremely rare type of amnesia called retrograde amnesia. Slowly, he began to re-learn things about his family, friends and life in general. Murray documents the first year or so of this recovery.

The clinical information from psychologists, philosophers, and doctors is endlessly fascinating, but the film finds its heart in the moments of discovery. Along with Murray's work, the film uses footage that Bruce filmed himself as he was discerning his past and the small things that we might forget about. In the film's most sincere moment, Doug witnesses snow falling and is lit up with excitement. He goes downstairs to take a handful of it, squeezes it until it becomes compacted and simply says, "Oh, I get it." In moments like this, we see the initial wonder of discovery and the subtle realization of practicality.

After getting the basics back, Bruce feels comfortable enough to return to London and be reintroduced to his old friends. Between pints, champagne and fancy food, it's obvious that Doug connects to these people but doesn't care about them, because he has forgotten the moments that bound them. When his friend's wife (the mother of his godson) hugs him and begins to cry, Bruce is completely calm and offers to walk her back to her flat. He also falls in love with an Australian girl, who believes him to be without fault as far as love goes and without the memory of any past relationships, she might be right (Eternal Sunshine, anyone?).

If Unknown White Male is a fraud, it's one of the best and easily the most convincing, and Bruce would have to be an utterly mind-blowing performer. But also, everyone in the film would have to be as well to a certain extent. In the eyes of his family and friends, there is the unmistakable glint of both re-evaluating Doug's past and deciphering the new Doug. Within these moments, we feel the measured take of a life abruptly re-envisioned by its own participant, before the chalkboard dust even settles on the floor.

Where's Waldo?



Unknown White Male

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 1st January 2005

Distributed by: Wellspring Media

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 56 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Rupert Murray

Producer: Beadie Finzi

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.