Few trends have recorded the hammering of centuries of self-esteem and (by the way) self-awareness. Over the past two decades, directors such as Andrew Bialski, the Duplass brothers and Joe Swanberg have carved out a place for themselves in the genre typical of their granddaughters.
Unfortunately, actor Dave Franco seems too happy to sleep in these well-digested trenches in his directorial debut “The Rent”.
Sharing his writing assignments with Swanberg, Franco wanders through the remarkably populated subgenre of Mumbling, remodelling the weekend as the backdrop for a slow invasion – think of a more sober You’re Next. The location opens to Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Mina (Sheila Wand) when they’re comfortably settled to lure the grotesque and decadent Airbnb ashore. Although they spend the night on site, they quickly decide this is the right way to celebrate securing seed money for their unfinished business. So far, nauseous.
The film’s first twist and the vanity reproach that underlies much of the plot is that Mina meets Charlie’s brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen White), a much less well-built Lyft driver whose previous cruel reproach hangs over his head. Meanwhile, Charlie is married to Michelle (Allison Brie), although he often seems confused on the issue. While introducing the quartet to the Airbnb’s Taylor (Toby Hass) caretaker, he comes across a definition of his relationship with Mina: “My partner Mina… “my work partner… is also Josh’s girlfriend.” That’s the sound of someone who never had to choose.
Franco and Svanberg’s script is at its best when it reveals moments of personal tension between the four of them and the small moments of ignorance and passive aggression once the cruelty is removed. While weekends are devoted to a form of alcohol and drug abuse that suits privileged holidaymakers, the languages that have bitten for years are slowly melting away. Franco and Svanberg never advocated tying this emotional time bomb to the terrible tracks, nor giving the film a recognizable structure and climax.
It may be better to look at it blindly, but the way events unfold at the end is quite predictable from the beginning. The viewer comes and goes with all the charm associated with a slow racist slime, a ferocious cliff and crashing waves – a constant reminder that something terrible is happening, and that the house itself has all the terrible inclusions one would expect; an inexplicable basement with a digital seal, ceiling fans, which Franco preferred to put in a central frame, and a network of hidden cameras and microphones that gradually reveal themselves.
Another problem is that although all the characters talk like real people, they also talk the same way about all the Swanberg characters, stumbling over each other in fascinating non-sequential surfaces and dripping with self-loathing. Attempts are made to break out of the style of racial micro loops directed at Mina Taylor (and then combed by Charlie), but Rent is more interested in different replicas of the same hipster umbilical cord. This is, of course, a loaded critique, but it only underlines their common horrors – a truth that is widely acknowledged and already well enlightened by Swanberg.
Like many floating photographs, The Rental is primarily dialogue-oriented, but Franco is at least a little confident when it comes to direction. Franco Christian Sprenger’s DP resisted all this with the same subtle color palette that characterized his work in Atlanta, with the doubling of earthy red and turquoise blue – blood and bile hiding under every well-organized bookcase and carefully arranged set of kitchen utensils. Likewise, in moments of horror, there is a simple formalism, whether it be the frame that rises with each breath of the invisible viewer, or the threatening close-ups of otherwise innocent household objects.
So competent, but nothing romantic. Franco’s attention to his characters promises an effective and subtle melodrama, but never stops completely in the moments of formulated terror. The commentary to Airbnbs seems to extend only to scepticism about commercial ventures that target the young and blushing, and the final revelation does not give the necessary spin to sustain the picture. Rent – genes