WAX: We Are the X (2015)
Release Date: March 27th, 2015 (Phoenix Film Festival) MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Lorenzo Corvino Actors: Jacopo Maria Bicocchi, Gwendolyn Gourvenec, Davide Paganini, Claudia Gallo, Muriel Gandois, Francesca Ritrovato, Jean-Marc Barr, Rutger Hauer
n the countries of the West, those born between the end of the ‘60s and the early ‘80s belong to what is commonly known as Generation X. In some regions, they have been renamed “expendables.” This is the (true) story of three of them. Or so suggests the opening titles of “WAX: We Are the X,” a pseudo-documentary adventure about angst and wandering and a lack of inspiration.
Aaron Mulder (Rutger Hauer, whose recognizable face certainly doesn’t help the film’s nonfiction angle) from Holland, now working in Italy, is a former civil rights lawyer looking for investigative reporters. He manages to orchestrate a meeting with one particular journalist (Andrea Sartoretti), who he hopes will look deeper into the accidental deaths of three young filmmakers who died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Mulder can only provide, in the form of a flash drive, a diary of their last week alive, as evidence that more needs to be done in the investigation.
The contents of the USB device begin with egotistical, older producer Saverio (Andrea Renzi) arranging a location-scouting meeting with his production manager, 35 year-old Livio Nesi (Davide Paganini), as they begin work shooting an ad – for which they’ll be paid half-a-million euros. They’re joined by Dario Cervi (Jacopo Maria Bicocchi), a 33 year-old novice Italian director and former storyboarder who is documenting the entire experience via personal camera and microphone equipment, and, later, by Joelle Bernard (Gwendolyn Gourvenec), a 32 year-old French casting director with an attractiveness befitting internet pornography (or so Livio insists). Working for the company Liberty Film, the crew must coordinate with the French Riviera Film Commission before acquiring a place to stay in Menton. Afterwards, they arrange to fly in a helicopter for specific shots of the city, attend the Lemon Festival, see a circus performance, and smoke marijuana – before finally planning to rejoin Saverio at the Fairmont Hotel at the end of the weekend.
“I can’t do the whole video blog in handheld. People would vomit!” Despite including this line of dialogue, the movie is nevertheless entirely a found-footage production. Assembled solely from handheld cameras, interviews, cell phone recordings, security cam snippets (one hotel room camera is aimed directly at the bed, which is utter nonsense), and first-person clips, the movie is not only dizzying in its technique, it’s also terribly unoriginal. It’s a cinematic narrative that has been done to death and it only becomes more unwieldy as every new found-footage movie is released.
There’s also never an explanation for why Cervi wishes to create a behind-the-scenes video blog for a mere car commercial (other than it’s his first time), with so much equipment (he even has a waterproof smartphone placed inside a full kitchen sink – as if that angle would be necessary for a blog) and in a feature-length, unreasonably detailed manner (many sequences resemble high quality music videos). A good portion of his documentation appears to be just an excuse to spy on Joelle. Even more confusing is Joelle’s agreement to record her own solitary talks for inclusion in Cervi’s piece and to offer up old family films for segues.
Titles, dates, and times also flash onscreen (creating something of a countdown to “X Hour”), dividing the finished product into chapters of sorts. And inside those segments are a lot of filler materials, most prominently in the form of teen-minded small talk – with Dario and Livio competing over the attention of the alluring female newcomer. They also reveal the major theme of the project, which is exasperation over the schooling process and the limitations on success, as the ruling powers suppress creative youths and resist integration. This leaves hopeful graduates to realize only uncertainty in their jobs and a feeling of coercion into unacceptable employment conditions. Italy apparently cultivates inferiority complexes with its lack of social cohesion.
The film is ultimately a rumination on self-worth and the strive to impart valuable contributions to mankind – though it occasionally digresses into a generic romantic comedy or an erotic threesome home video (like “The Dreamers”) or a strange rip of “Punk’d.” But none of these elements bring about an entertaining film. And the cameos by Jean-Marc Barr and Lily Bloom as themselves are just pointless.