If you wanted to create a perfect movie checklist for me this movie would hit most of the boxes. It’s about a former beauty queen that kidnaps a Mormon missionary and turns him into a sex slave, so it’s definitely weird. The subject matter is so ridiculous that even the interviewees that aren’t trying to be funny end up saying funny things. It’s continually surprising because most of the twist and turns in the story are so bizarre that you can’t see them coming. Director Errol Morris’ usual themes about the slippery nature of truth appear, so even though the film’s subject matter is tawdry the film is not completely high brow or low brow. It’s an enticing mixture, one that balances fact and fiction, comedy and tragedy, absurdity and sympathy.
Unfortunately, it also has a lower rewatch value than I would have guessed. It’s not that the film becomes less fun – it still has it’s moments of high camp – but it becomes less interesting once you know the contours of the story. There are certain stretches of the film that drag a bit once you know who is an unreliable narrator, because it isn’t necessarily worth listening to their testimony. Furthermore, having a solid sense of who you believe and who you don’t kind of undermines Morris’ implied questions about the unknowability of truth.
Still, while I didn’t necessarily enjoy a second viewing I didn’t see any flaws that would discourage me from recommending it to anyone else that hasn’t seen it. If this movie isn’t on your radar it should be; the story is fantastic, and Errol Morris tells it with great panache.
Winner: Push for me, Winner For You