On my last day of TIFF, I checked out the Zack Parker's thriller, Proxy.
After Esther (Alexia Rasmussen) is attacked and loses her unborn child, she takes solace in a support group where she meets Melanie (Alexa Havins), a woman with a troubling secret of her own.
Proxy is a curious little character piece. I have heard the word “challenging” bandied about to describe it, which is fairly accurate, but not for the ways I think it was meant. Contrary to what I'd heard about the film, it was actually nowhere near as inflammatory as I was expecting. If anything, the violence of the first few moments was treated with an veritable nonchalance.
I feel that Proxy is a case of the director (who also served as editor) getting in his own way. There were several sequences that had a real Hitchcockian vibe to them, but the film overall could've been much stronger in more skillful hands. As it was, some key scenes were executed in such a way that didn't quite play like the director perhaps intended them to. A more deft hand in the editing bay would've substantially improved the pace of the film, as well.
|Alexia Rasmussen (left) and Alexa Havins in Proxy.
Uneven presentation aside, I actually dug the story quite a bit, and appreciated I was unsure where it was going to go. Even though I had some problems with the nuts and bolts of the piece, there were some fascinating avenues explored involving whether these characters were unbalanced even before they were touched by tragedy. I also have to give Parker credit for the bold narrative shift he pulled off in the middle of the film. I've seen this type of thing derail films before, but here it was successful; necessary even. Proxy was also kept afloat by measured performances from Rasmussen & Havins.
Proxy is a flawed film, but I can't deny there's some provocative stuff going on within. If Parker keeps at it, I expect he'll hit gold soon enough.