“If you’re not afraid of this world, you should be...
Spoken by a protagonist, Jane, whose face remains hidden behind the camera, these words ring eerily true, reflecting her paranoid mentality, as well as the disorienting point of view which sends you on a nocturnal journey of (phantasmal) confusion. Who is she? A young content creator taking a stab at a less conventional fare, or a wandering, disembodied consciousness, alien or AI-generated, ‘struggling to establish connection with her body’, as noted in the synopsis? Is she even alive? Considering the lines such as ‘everything outside smells like week-old corpses’ (heard during the very first minute) and ‘I think I died right over there’, Jane may be but a restless spirit; a ghost of a suicide or homicide victim remembering her past life in fragmented soliloquies.
Regardless of the answers to these questions, Marjorie Conrad delivers another boldly experimental feature – a follow-up to her vampyric tone-poem Desire Path – that constantly keeps you guessing, as it pulls you in Jane’s ‘inner labyrinth’, and leaves you with an unreliable narrator as the only guide. Shot with a GoPro on Washington locations (streets, parking lots, motel rooms, parks and beaches) at wintry nights, in the form of a found-footage horror, Body Issues is one hardly classifiable piece of cinema. Part introspective essay that hangs above the thin line separating life from death, and part moody city symphony or rather, elegy distorted through the prism of the loneliness affliction, the film feels like a heavy dream in which you’re enveloped in darkness, and lost in a place you can’t recognize. Its lo-fi aesthetics of tenebrous visuals, dizzying montages, brooding sound design and whimsical electronic score are all beautifully matched to the dense, nightmarish atmosphere that brings to mind Philippe Grandrieux and David Lynch (in the Inland Empire element).
(The review is based on the private screener provided by the author.)