If looking for compelling explorations of authorship and the merits of varying artistic mediums, The Plagiarists is not the place to come. Any redeeming qualities are lost under a heavily contrived plot focused on two unlikeable navel-gazers whose overnight stop at a friend of a friend’s house unwittingly leads them to several tedious arguments, which fail to earn any emotional engagement.
The boxy aspect ratio and retro video cinematography would be charming were it not for the lazy script, soap opera transitions, and aggressively bland stock music which make the entire picture feel a half-hearted effort. The actors cannot be accurately judged working off such underwritten material. Character-wise, Anna escapes the egregious self-involvement that marks the film’s other characters. Tyler becomes unbearably obnoxious, beyond the enjoyable parodies of straight white male ‘film bros’, by the film’s halfway mark. The resulting 73-minute story teeters between boring and exhausting.
The characters’ conversations about the truth and meaning of art become increasingly grating as they talk themselves in self-absorbed circles; when finally questioning the ethics of uncited quoting, their valid points feel overblown and paranoid since all efforts at emotional investment have failed. Additionally, the lazy writing loses all satire and hypocrisy. At one unintentionally hilarious point, a radio review of a superb 90-minute film plays underneath one particularly unpleasant scene, highlighting just how much this film is lacking by comparison and reminding viewers of the wonderful pieces they could be enjoying instead.
Bafflingly, after Tyler’s obsession with old film cameras and the film’s own aesthetic choices, The Plagiarists concludes with a paean to literature’s superiority. A smarter film could get away with such self-aware, self-deprecating commentary on artistic authenticity and the respective powers literature and cinema; unfortunately, The Plagiarists is no such creation.
CAST: Michael “Clip” Payne, Lucy Kaminsky, Eamon Monaghan, Emily Davis
DIRECTOR: Peter Parlow
WRITERS: James N. Kienitz Wilkins, Robin Schavoir
SYNOPSIS: After their car breaks down, an artistic young couple