In case its ethereal visual style and narrative ellipses don’t sufficiently convey that it’s meant to feel like a wistful dream, Jason Banker’s Felt immediately announces itself as such during central character Amy’s (Amy Everson) opening monologue, delivered via the film’s only instance of voiceover. Before Amy is formally introduced and the narrative proper even begins, Banker already tips his hand at the film’s subsequent blurring of reality and fantasy, thus trivializing the majority of the aesthetic decisions intended to evoke that notion. It isn’t surprising, after this brief yet all-too-revealing prologue, that the proceeding story is littered with foreshadowing and subtext exposed through exposition, which leaves this meandering film very little to ponder over its provocative content.
Though her level of success is never divulged, Amy is an unconventional artist who routinely incorporates male and female sex organs into her work, which stems from a seeming (and quickly redundant) obsession with equating various everyday objects into aberrant sexual instruments. Naturally dissatisfied with the brutish, humorless simpletons who enter her life, she finds personal escape in her creation of a quasi-superhero who serves justice to all women who’ve been wronged by men. It isn’t long before Amy meets and begins dating the shy and sensitive Kenny (Kentucker Audley), who challenges her perceptions of the opposite sex. Her artistic inspirations notwithstanding, Amy is such a generalized character that there’s very little that feels specific to her, most notably, and surely a lack of personality can’t be the sole reason, why she carries such contempt for the opposite sex beyond feeling objectified. Banker creates an unintentional paradox in a film that purports to be a female-empowering reverie, as the innermost thoughts and desires that characterize Amy as an independent and singular person are never given full expression. Even though she presumably wants to be rid of them, Amy is still nonetheless defined by her relation to men.
In Felt’s one great scene, Amy engages a topless model (Roxanne Lauren Knouse) at a photo shoot. Both gleefully subvert female objectification by freely farting and performing bizarre poses to a disgusted male photographer. But the impact of the scene, an honest and uproarious depiction of female friendship and effrontery, is quickly undermined when the film has Amy explicitly and redundantly confess, via a lengthy monologue, how she’s tired of being objectified. At which point a pair of shears are pulled out and Felt reveals its hand as petulant, simplistic revenge fantasy. By the end, Banker implies that a woman must essentially perpetrate a horrible atrocity in order to survive in a man’s world. Fittingly reflecting Amy’s penchant for dressing up in various costumes, this visceral yet ultimately hollow bit of violence exposes the film’s sense of empowerment as nothing more than a harmless sheep masquerading in wolf’s clothing.