Public Domain

Public Domain

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The reality television craze is now fizzling out but producers are still on the hunt for hot concepts to exploit. Somewhat lecherously, their critics, like director Kris Lefcoe, are also on the lookout for new angles from which to attack. Lefcoe’s Public Domain is ostensibly a critique of reality-based programming, but its muddled intent and miscalculated presentation gets at nothing. The show at the center of the film is something of a discombobulated version of Big Brother, where lives are invaded by a television program’s hidden cameras and audiences at home are asked to vote for the most pathetic guinea pig. Throughout, the show’s hosts provide obvious commentary as the contestant pool is whittled down to three finalists: a man who hasn’t left his house in over a decade, a woman with an unnatural obsession with Echo and the Bunneymen, and a crystal meth junkie. Reality television hawks fake truth. Lefcoe understands this but her own faux scenario doesn’t meaningfully grapple with the inhumane, parasitic relationship between audiences, reality programs, and their pathological, fame-groveling contestants. Scarcely critical, the film seems most shocked by the behavior of its victims, whose lives are being illegally monitored, than it is by the faceless audience that feeds on ridicule and exploitation. Most crushing is a startling irony: that the show the film most resembles is funnier, better performed, and often more expressive of society’s sexual and racial segregations.

Runtime
77 min
Rating
NR
Year
2003
Director
Kris Lefcoe
Screenwriter
Kris Lefcoe
Cast
Nicole de Boer, Don McKellar, Nadia Litz, Mike Beaver, Lindy Booth, Dov Tiefenbach