Four Eyed Monsters (2005) / Drama-Romance
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for sexuality, brief nudity and language
Running time: 70 min.
Cast: Arin Crumley, Susan Buice, Marc Scrivo, Brad Calcaterra, Danny Ward
Director: Susan Buice, Arin Crumley
Screenplay: Susan Buice, Arin Crumley
Review published May 23, 2007
Arin (Crumley) is a geeky music and film-oriented artist from Brooklyn. He spends a great deal of time observing others, particularly those who are couples, constant reminders of how he has always been alone. He can count his sexual partners on one hand, and the amount of experiences with the very same fingers. He turns to internet dating, which is where he is approached by Susan (Buice), a waitress and aspiring artist in the city who insists that they meet right away instead of fizzling out like most internet hook-ups.
When they meet, they decide to play it differently than most, opting to communicate with each other through non-verbal means, with the help of a pen and pad of paper. The two hit it off -- so well that they engage in sex right away, but the reality of the morning after hits when Arin finds himself in the free clinic, apparently afflicted with herpes. The suspicions and accusations soon wear the first promising relationship in their lives down, as they find they can't quite get over the mistrust involved, but are too in need of each other's company to break it all off altogether.
Four-Eyed Monsters tells an autobiographical retrospective of Arin and Susan's attempts to be in a relationship with each other, finding a great deal of attraction when they communicate through the home videos and tapes they leave for one another, but never quite able to keep it up when in person. Although the two do meet right away, their experiences mirror the relationships of many would-be lovers nowadays, able to connect with one another intellectually while through the electronic correspondence of e-mails, chat or phone conversations, but when actually in one another's physical presence, it doesn't quite work out on the same level.
What you find once you peel away the layers of their relationship is that, to a large extent, their attraction for one another is mostly driven through their attraction to their mutual artistic sides, as they both are able to see the talent in each other, and to bring out that side of themselves that is mostly wasted on those not cool enough to get what they are trying to say. They both pursue one another in a way that helps them both pursue art itself, with Arin actively working through video presentations and editing, while Susan is busy drawing and constructing animations to express a mood or her points of view.
Four-Eyed Monsters is fascinating for a unique depiction of a new type of courtship, effectively capturing how the new generation communicates and relates to one another through multimedia outlets like computers, videos, audio, text messages, MySpace, and other non-physical sources. If one were to look at it in a more cynical light, their idealized opinions of one another keep them interested, but both individuals find it easier to express themselves by channeling these feelings through another process -- verbal connections and physical embraces are as foreign to them as their art is to those not in the same creative realm.
As far as the film itself goes, it's a short and very low budget film, with actors that aren't professional (though not exactly amateurish either) and a somewhat narcissistic bent that is often inherent in an artistic treatment like this. When the whole film consists of two people putting themselves out there, everything they think, hope, dream, and despair about, it's not a given that the audience will find a personal connection with it, depending on their frames of reference. I think it helps to have an attraction to the need for self-expression that exists in nearly every artist, as the film is the embodiment of two artists conveying how they feel to one another through words, symbols, reflections, and technological devices. It's not an easy film to like, as it is quite pessimistic at times, but if you've ever had a relationship that has existed through mostly digital means, you may find it strikes a chord in you.
In any relationship, there are two sets of people with two heads, and four eyes. However, there are sometimes those relationships, such as the one in which Arin and Susan share, where they find more closeness in being far away from one another, looking into each other's eyes through the digital display of a television, camera display, or computer screen. When the two engage in the one act that should make them both feel close, feel connected, feel as one, it only results in complete mistrust, distancing, and rejection. Apart, they are irresistibly compelled to one another. Together, as they share the same space and breathe the same air, they become the four-eyed monster -- the cause of each other's misery and pain, disease and heartbreak.
©2007 Vince Leo