Politics

Nowhere to Go in ‘We’re All Going to the World’s Fair’


As tiny and modest as a uncooked little indie can presumably get, Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair exudes apocalyptic implications. Not often straying greater than a hair’s breadth from its plummeting teenage heroine’s Web-fried eyeballs, the movie nonetheless feels on the sting of one thing—a peek on the finish occasions from the within out, or a lurking emotional reality, not less than, a couple of rising up in a world structured on screens and the abyss of elusive humanity behind them.

That’s so much, and as I’ve mentioned, the movie is palm-sized, trapped within the bell jar of a sure woman’s attic bed room: Casey (Anna Cobb) is a bushbaby-eyed, goth-y excessive schooler with out college, with out pals, with out human contact (we hear her irate father downstairs, however by no means see him). The unarticulated loneliness the movie musters in each shot is fearsome, however Casey doesn’t mope—she’s engaged within the mysteries of Web otherworldliness, particularly with the hoaxy “World’s Fair Challenge,” by which you smear blood in your laptop computer, chant “I want to go to the World’s Fair” thrice, after which witness a strobe assault. (We don’t see it, simply Casey’s face because the strobing reduces it to pixelated non-person-ness.) After which, it’s rumored, “changes” and “symptoms” seem, and also you begin “becoming” one thing else.

The imprecise particulars of the city legend-fad are unimportant, and Casey doesn’t have trigger to narrate any particulars about it anyway. There may be nothing to know—as with “real” such phenomena, like 2018’s Momo Problem, the essence of the factor is its maddening nonexistence. However for Casey, it’s as critical as a ghost sighting. Author/director Schoenbrun’s agenda is appropriately impressionist, fragmenting Casey’s expertise right into a subjective mini-cyclone, as she posts movies of herself as she might or might not be “changing,” and attracts the ominous consideration of a faceless, voice-masked creepster (Michael Rogers), who desires to guard Casey, he says, and who asks for movies of her sleeping.

That’s it for humanity—excepting the handful of equally self-posted movies Casey watches, of monologuing World’s Fair victims, considered one of whom slowly pulls a protracted ribbon of arcade tickets out of a scabby wound on his arm. By staying so small and evading a concrete story, Schoenbrun’s film manages to evoke a ghastly modern actuality, by which Gen Z-ers are semi-lost in a digital tradition of self-created different lives summoned out of little greater than exhibitionism, lonesomeness, and suicidality, a fringe dimension of delusional drama and stress that’s each extra manageable and extra mysterious than the actual world. For nearly each second of the film, we’re questioning how alone Casey really is—is anyone however that one weirdo watching? She’s just like the final woman on Earth, crowing into the void.

Or, in fact, one of many hundred million final ladies on Earth. The small print are painfully proper; Schoenbrun sharply musters the claustrophobic part of life when all the things appears to occur in your childhood mattress, and when a fantasy life created in your poster-draped, locked-door bed room might be threateningly intense. Cobb, for her half, appears as a lot a discovered creature as a deft performer, with recesses of awkward guilelessness that might not be feigned. A lot of the film is taken up along with her watching screens and immediately into her numerous cameras, at us, gazing with lunar eyes into an digital scrim that we all know very effectively watches us with out ever responding with a mutual gaze. By the top, we’re unsure of something—besides the ominous thrust of Schoenbrun’s ironic title, which deftly speaks to not only one susceptible teenager, however each considered one of us.  ❖

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair opens Thursday at BAM.



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