Like Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation, “Solitary Fracture” shows how new technologies bring further democracy to cinema. It used to be you needed thousands of dollars of film, cameras, sound equipment and expensive editing room time to make a movie, then you had to make prints and travel around with them to show your work. Now a guy like Deniz Michael can just shoot as much as he like with his DV cam, edit the footage on his home computer then create an online presence and send burnt DVD-Rs to whoever wants to see his “photoplay”.
Making “Solitary Fracture” even more of a one-man show is how Michael not only wrote, directed and edited it, he also composed the atmospheric guitar score and is the only actor on screen. Not the lead, the only one! A few other voices are heard here and there, but we never see who they belong to. This makes for an utterly unflinching character study, the camera settling on Mike Peters and never looking away until the end.
Peters starts out like your average twentysomething guy, working a boring 9 to 5 job then going back to the room he rents in an old lady’s house and watching TV a little before going to bed until the alarm clock starts the routine all over the next morning. One morning though, the alarm never comes and when Mike calls his boss to tell him he’ll be late, he’s unceremoniously fired. Thus begins a disturbing downward spiral, as Mike starts losing his grip on reality, crawling into a bottle and having angry arguments with an imaginary friend named Sam…
This is a difficult picture to watch. It’s voyeuristic almost to an obscene amount: watch Mike brush his teeth, watch Mike eat, watch Mike on the crapper, watch Mike puke… At the same time, the use of B&W, jump cuts and distorted image and sound give the story an almost surreal feel, and one finds himself drawn into Mike’s struggle. We’ve been programmed to think that works defines oneself. “You get a job, you become the job,” as Wizard says in Taxi Driver. But everyone’s had moments where you feel alienated by a meaningless job and you want to give everything up.
“Solitary Fracture” is not entertaining by any definition, but it’s a memorable journey into the darkest corners of the human mind. You can find out more about it by visiting www.solitaryfracture.com.