Wednesday December 17, 1997

     "Guy" is a creepy, funny and altogether provocative meditation on the power of a film camera--and it's also almost a love story. In the title role, Vincent D'Onofrio plays a handsome, well-built 34-year-old single L.A. male. Surely, this description has something to do with an unseen female filmmaker in selecting him as the subject upon which she will turn her camera during all their working hours. "When it's over, we'll know," she tells him.
     Whether by accident or design, the never-identified filmmaker (Hope Davis) has hit upon an archetype in Guy, whose very name is generic. Like lots of men you see all over the city, Guy is well-dressed and drives a luxury car (a black Mercedes-Benz in his case) but is not as affluent as his lifestyle would suggest.
     He clearly lives by his wits, for he's currently being paid to locate classic American cars for resale in Scandinavia, which doesn't look to be a lifetime career. What's more, the impressive Hollywood Hills home in which he's living actually belongs to his employers. There's a temporary quality to his life that's very L.A.--a quality that, combined with the fact that he's intelligent and decent, makes him vulnerable to the filmmaker.
     Not surprisingly, Guy is initially outraged at having this unknown woman with a camera coming out of nowhere and latching on to him like a barnacle. Before you can start wondering seriously as to why he doesn't get a restraining order against her here and now, her amazing cool and quiet persistence start undermining his protests.
     He begins to like the attention, he acknowledges that he's used to not letting anyone get too close to him (a typical male attitude) and at last he admits that the surveillance has started giving him a sense of security. He perhaps senses that a film about him would somehow give meaning to a life that maybe doesn't have much meaning when he comes to think about it. In any event, he gets addicted to the constant attention, even if it at times exasperates him. Worse yet, he finds himself falling in love with the woman we can't see.
     Writer Kirby Dick and director Michael Lindsay-Hogg suggest chillingly how a camera, if it holds its focus on an individual with relentless impassiveness, may inevitably progress from recording reality to transforming it in a profoundly destructive manner. (They also remind us of the movies' potent voyeuristic appeal.) Filmed entirely on location all over L.A., "Guy" may be modest in budget but ambitious intellectually and aesthetically. That it succeeds is because of the filmmakers' ability to sustain a story entirely from the unseen filmmaker's point of view and from D'Onofrio's ability to hold the screen so effectively, revealing more and more of what makes the very likable but increasingly defenseless Guy tick.
     D'Onofrio, one of the movies' most versatile and venturesome young actors, also signed on as a co-producer of this most distinctive and disturbing film. *

Guy, 1997. R for a strong sex scene, and for language including some sexual dialogue. A Gramercy Pictures release of a PolyGram Filmed Entertainment presentation in association with Pandora Films (Frankfurt) with the support of Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen of a Renee Missel-Tulchin/Ades production. Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Screenplay Kirby Dick. Producer Renee Missel. Associate producer Warren Jason. Executive producers Harris Tulchin, Richard Ades. Screenplay Kirby Dick. Cinematographer Arturo Smith. Editor Dody Dorn. Production designer Kara Lindstrom. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. Vincent D'Onofrio as Guy. Hope Davis as Camera. Kimber Riddle as Veronica. Diane Salinger as Gail. Richard Portnow as Al.

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