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Review: A film about on-air suicides, ‘The Show’ is predictable and tone-deaf

Josh Duhamel and Sarah Wayne Callies in a scene from the movie “The Show.”
(Kailey Schwerman / Lionsgate Entertainment)

Neither sharp enough to qualify as satire nor emotional enough to be a standard drama, “The Show” exists in film purgatory. Directed by “Breaking Bad” actor Giancarlo Esposito, the movie attempts to comment on reality-show culture, but it offers little insight beyond its ill-conceived premise. With suicide at its center, “The Show” is both tone-deaf and a tonal mess.

After a deadly incident on a “Bachelor”-esque reality show, its host, Adam Rogers (Josh Duhamel), wants out. But he still has contractual obligations, so he is forced to partner with network executive Ilana Katz (Famke Janssen) on a new series. Alongside live-event producer Sylvia (Caitlin FitzGerald), they create “This Is Your Death.” With people committing suicide on live television, the show becomes a hit, but they have to contend with the consequences. Meanwhile, network janitor Mason Washington (Esposito) struggles to make ends meet for his family as his desperation grows and the film trudges toward its predictable conclusion.

“The Show” is neither as nasty as its premise could lend itself to be nor as emotionally resonant as it could be. This is Esposito’s second time behind the camera, and it would take a more experienced directorial hand to fix the problems with the script, from its problematic concept to the illogical arc of its protagonist.

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‘The Show’

Rating: R, for disturbing and violent content involving suicides, language throughout and brief drug use

Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Playing: AMC Universal CityWalk 19

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