***/**** Image A- Sound A Extras B-
starring Rhys Wakefield, Logan Miller, Ashley Hinshaw, Natalie Hall
screenplay by Bill Gullo
directed by Dennis Iliadis
by Walter Chaw David (Rhys Wakefield) screws up and loses girlfriend Jill (Ashley Hinshaw), only to run into her the night of a gigantic, hedonistic, Gatsby-esque party attended by rave strippers, DJs, and drug dealers. An unlikely place to stage a comeback, David, with buddy Teddy (Logan Miller), coaxes Jill into a conversation that goes south--but then the lights cut out, there's a weird meteorite event outside, and David finds himself with the opportunity to try the conversation again: same place, different Jill. It seems that something's created a quantum split--a little bleed-over maybe from a parallel dimension that twists time and creates doubles of all the revellers, though only a few notice. The ones who don't party on in a kind of nightmarish inattention that reminds of the dreamscapes of Miracle Mile and After Hours; the ones who do begin to wonder what will happen when the time-slips overlap and they find themselves attempting to share the same space as their doppelgängers.
+1 is innovative, sexy, energetic, and possessed of that one The Prestige/Primer/Timecrimes high concept that inspires any number of thorny questions, but lands with our teen heroes as a two-headed hammer pounding out violence with the forehand swing and sex with the backhand. +1 does that well, the sex-and-violence, but what it does best is suggest that when confronted with itself, the ego (especially the pubescent ego), being what it is, becomes revulsed. That's what makes the movie's signature moment, when introverted girl Alison (twins Colleen and Suzanne Dengel) finally finds someone who understands her in her double, resonate the way it does. +1 does the debauch of the late-teen scene as well as any film in this Year of Debauchery (Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring)--does it in fact as well as anything since Risky Business and the heyday of '80s teensploitation. But it elevates it with strong performances, tight direction, and a genuinely clever approach to a conceit the poential of which has never really been realized (see: Multiplicity, The One, Doppelganger).
Throughout, characters ask each other which one they are, in moments that aren't so much The Thing as they are existential questions posed to friends on the verge of the rest of their lives. David's attempts to woo Jill are tinted with Say Anything... melancholy-- that Umbrellas of Cherbourg romanticism that indicates that for all the euphoria of the first bloom of love and lust, everything is doomed and nothing is likely to work out. Even the peculiar moral politics of porn fantasies are touched upon when Teddy, while lucking out with hot blonde Melanie (Natalie Hall), is confronted with the appearance of her double and asks if they wouldn't consider just going with it. It's weird, yes, but it's also the most natural thing in the world to wonder if you're a man, particularly a young one. +1 rocks partly because it presents the familiar in such a way as to make it appear alien. It puts human nature under the microscope, and it does so without any ascription of intent--there's no real explanation for what's happening, no alien-invasion plot (though that's speculated), no end-of-times concerns (though that subject comes up, too). If there's an intelligence behind the events of the film, it remains a mystery. +1 would make a valuable double bill with Chronicle as diaries of youth's desires: They're imperfect, it's true, boasting as many missed opportunities as bull's-eyes, yet both offer proof, ultimately, that movies about this demographic need not be clearinghouses for idiots. It's pretty great. Originally published: October 16, 2013.
by Bill Chambers IFC has unfortunately relegated +1 to DVD, despite its trailer appearing on recent Blu-rays from the studio. I don't really understand why IFC feels that the telefilmic Would You Rather and A Case of You warrant BD releases while the uniquely stylish +1, The Loneliest Planet, and Berberian Sound Studio do not, but then again, I don't understand why DVDs are still being used for anything but box sets of standard-def TV shows, so... Fortunately, for a DVD presentation +1 looks and sounds very good, the 2.35:1, 16x9-enhanced transfer boasting glassy if not overly crisp fine detail, vivid but controlled colours, and solid dynamic range. Compared to the aforementioned HD trailers, the image is predictably dim and unrefined, but as an upconverted DVD it fairly soars. The lossy DD 5.1 audio packs an impressive punch, with bass from the picture's travelling rave providing many of the quieter exchanges with an ominous, acoustically credible thrum. Discrete surround usage is plentiful (particularly during a late-film siege on a poolhouse) and always rendered with crystal clarity.
For a title that's considered minor by default, this is a stacked disc. Extras begin with a commentary from director Dennis Iliadis and DP Mihal Malaimare, Jr., who speak rather sparingly in thick accents; it's a bit of a slog, actually. They say some admirable things, though, like how they actively courted the approval of their cast to make sure the film hit that 16-25 demographic sweet spot. And Iliadis claims the opening shot of a pink rose in closeup was not intentionally vulvic, but I genuinely couldn't tell whether he was kidding. Video-based features begin with "Interview with Dennis Iliadis & Cast at SXSW by Perri Nemiroff, SHOCKYA.COM" (11 mins.). Except for Nemiroff herself, it's a poorly-miked, informal session, with actress Ashley Hinshaw sitting on co-star Logan Miller's lap while lead Rhys Wakefield is slumped off to the side of them, mannequin-like, coming to life only when prompted. Most of the discussion centres around the emotional/technical (techno-emotional?) complexities of +1's myriad Groundhog Day scenarios. Not bad if you can persevere through all the background din. Similarly, "Screenslam Interview with Dennis Iliadis" (3 mins.) is a talking-head with the director captured outside a movie theatre amid the chaos of a screening. Mostly he's made to synopsize the picture but he does touch on the unspoken challenge of maintaining a party atmosphere for weeks on end. "By the end, we were all going crazy," he says.
During casting, the actors were asked "Do You Have a Recurring Dream?", making this three-minute compilation of their answers somewhat novel for an audition reel. Hinshaw relates a common one about her teeth falling out, whereas Miller talks of being menaced in his sleep by evil Power Rangers. "Storyboard to Film Comparison: Poolhouse Fight" (3 mins.) is just that, first presented as a montage of (handsome) boards, then as boards intercut with the finished sequence. No artist is credited. "VFX Behind the Scenes: Sushi Girl Revenge" (1 min.) shows that the guy is on wires but the naked sushi lady is not: Rather impressively, she uses a trampoline to do her airborne kick. "VFX Behind the Scenes: Face Replacements" (1 min.) is a self-explanatory montage of cast members with MoCap dots all over their face, sometimes on set and sometimes in a splitscreen window. "Outtakes: Teddy's Pick Up School" (3 mins.) is a mildly amusing, mostly interminable gag reel reminiscent of those Judd Apatow "Line-o-Rama"s in which Miller's Teddy tries out a variety of pick-up lines on Natalie Hall's Melanie--presumably of Miller's own invention, as Iliadis praises Miller's improv skills on the yak-track.
"Mosa+1cs" (11 mins.), credited on screen as "On-Set Demos," condenses the bulk of the film along with some outtakes into music-video form. Almost all trancelike hedonism, it's bizarrely compelling, yet a head-scratcher nonetheless. "SFX Makeup Slide Show" (1 min.) comprises Polaroids taken of the prosthetic gore effects, and the step-frame "Poster Gallery" is barely-distinguishable, slightly more NSFW renditions of the same concept art that graces the DVD cover, featuring the Sasha Grey-esque Chrissy Chambers. +1's green- and red-band trailers round out the disc.