Actors: Amy Everson, Kentucker Audley, Brendan Miller, Elisabeth Ferrara
Director: Jason Banker
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Region: Region 1
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
DVD Release Date: September 1, 2015
Run Time: 80 minutes
Felt is clearly a film made to inspire a reaction in its viewers, intentionally graphic and shocking in place of any actual work from the filmmakers. Sometimes these guttural reactions are enough to make a film memorable, but everything about this dark mumblecore thriller/drama is derivative to the point of being completely predictable, despite a minimalist approach to storytelling. The entire film feels hinged upon one inevitable climactic moment, which doesn’t feel earned or even appropriate for the rest of the film that director Jason Banker has given us. Nothing is earned, including the emotions of the audience. If you don’t develop a screenplay that provides character and story, there is nothing to become invested in prior to the exploitative final moments. Thoughtful themes treated lazily end up becoming trashy moments of unearned melodrama.
A majority of the film’s lack of focus comes from a nonexistent script. Star Amy Averson is credited with story along with Banker, but there was no actual dialogue written. They developed a base structure and then improvised the rest, which is why most scenes drift aimlessly, dialogue adding little to the overall concept. The fact that the film is based on the real experiences of Everson makes this entire endeavor feel more like therapy than entertainment. Perhaps other women who have been hurt in similar ways will revel in the twisted revenge fantasy of this single-note story, but it mostly comes off as a sad art project from someone in need of addressing her past.
The biggest issue may come from the filmmakers’ unwillingness to show or tell us what is wrong with our clearly damaged protagonist. Amy (played by Amy Everson, who clearly wanted very little separation from herself and the character) is acting strange, closing off from her friends and spending her time in solitude playing with countless sexual toys and dressing in demented homemade costumes. Without saying anything outright, the film insinuates with the subtlety of a sledgehammer that Amy has been sexually assaulted, presumably by her last boyfriend. This has left her with a room full of penis artwork that she mutilates for pleasure, when she isn’t dressing in her own costume adorned with a penis of her own. The rest of the time Amy simply surrounds herself with other male-hating women, who take every opportunity to act like the superior sex as they take their aggression out on all men they meet. It doesn’t matter if they are a good guy or one trying to exploit the women; in this movie there is no difference. All men are horrible and hurtful, somehow justifying the erratic and disturbing behavior from the women in the movie.
This may be a cathartic art exercise for Amy to recover from her negative experience with a man, but the message is muddled. As a man, I found this film to be horribly biased and disgustingly void of any real insight. I have never been raped (which I must assume has happened to Amy despite no dialogue to confirm it), but the punishment in this film comes nowhere near to fitting the crime. If only the director had committed to the horror aspects of the story, this may have come off as a cheap copy of Hard Candy or Audition, both of which handle the same themes with actual skill and suspense. Instead, the director simply appeases the actress at the center of the story, despite nothing being said. The improvised dialogue is nothing short of obnoxious, the camera work is shoddy and shaky, and 80 minutes is 60 too long for this material. Felt would have been better as a short film, preferable one only made to be shown to Everson’s therapist. The end result feels like art so personal that it was made only to be appreciated by the filmmakers themselves, and what themes are clear felt like a cry for help from these filmmakers. I know art is meant to be personal, but it should also say something worthwhile.
There are no special features. There should be no film. I rarely recommend films, but I almost never tell people to avoid movies. I would suggest everyone stay away from this film at all costs. Those who haven’t been assaulted will find little to relate to, and any male-hating spectators may revel in the senseless cruelty towards men as the film shamelessly blames them for all of the wrongdoings and suffering in the world, but it will only perpetuate bigotry and hatred rather than actual address any real issues. I found nothing worthwhile that hasn’t been done better elsewhere.
Entertainment Value: 2.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 1/10
Historical Significance: 0/10