Surreality TV

15 Aug 2013: The Model Couple (DVD, 1977, William Klein)

The chaotic form of this movie makes it more effective as science fiction than any number of classical-method-made Hollywood productions, as it cuts into not just television and consumerism but also things like “public opinion polls” and the kinds of ludicrously useless questions incessantly asked of sportscasted athletes and corporate customers (“How did you feel after [obviously delightful or tragic event]?” “Would you say you were very happy, mostly happy, somewhat happy…”). Maybe economics fiction, or psychology fiction, would be better genre names for capturing the relentless satire of these intersecting arenas of commerce, discourse and lifestyle. Cutting between the “model” couple to be televised to the world with the pair of technicians who monitor and guide the show reveals an insanity that shapes both sides of their relationship, not to mention that of the talking heads commenting on TV (unsettling washes of color lingering in the frame during such moments) and the minister who comes to visit the set. Prefiguring some of the techniques of Paul Verhoeven (as in Robocop, Starship Troopers or even Showgirls) but with a much more frenetic panache, this social skewering makes up for its somewhat lesser production values with a view of modern reality much fresher than most of the films with elaborate sets and copious digital effects made after it.

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