On_Line
review by Gregory Avery, 27 June 2003

On_Line is an attempt at a cybernetic La Ronde, starting with John (Josh Hamilton), co-proprietor of a "webcam pornographic website" called Intercon-X, and his sex-machine roommate, Mo (Harold Perrineau, who seems very eager to show the audience as much of himself as possible), then to Moira (Isabel Gillies), a girl Mo has been seeing (among other things), to Ed (Eric Millegan), a sullen gay lad attending college in Ohio, to Al (John Fleck), whom Ed meets through the Intercon-X site, then to Jordan (Vanessa Ferlito), who watches the same peeping-tom website, Angelcam.com, that John does.

Probably someone, sometime, will make a breezy, deft movie about Internet users -- actually, the Belgian film Thomas in Love has already done something like that, and more -- but, before it reaches its concluding observation that face-to-face relationships are better than ones carried on over broadband, the movie doesn't begin to address the implications of its characters' actions or the questions they raise. In the movie, everyone seems glued to their home computers almost all of the time, and, trying to turn the Internet into a hotbed of sex, the filmmakers reduce everyone to the level of voyeur or exhibitionist -- Jordan, in fact, makes some sort of living out of waiting for people to contact her over the Internet so she can don a wig and launch into naughty-talk and touch herself while cyberspace visitors on the other end of wherever proceed to get-off. Everyone is looking for something hot, and, as soon as it appears on their P.C. screens, they dive right into their trousers. This may go some ways towards explaining the bewildering, unsolicited SPAM e-mails I keep getting asking if I want to enlarge my member, but the film also shows its characters taking everything they see and hear over the Internet as being the sincerest truth -- nobody raises any concerns about deception or being mislead, which is why, despite the considerable amount of exposition in the film, the characters seem fairly tiny. The one moment the film really comes to life is when Josh Hamilton's John interrupts the train-of-thought, so to speak, of Vanessa Ferlito's Jordan during an electronic tete-a-tete -- he demands that something that had been mutual abruptly be turned one-way, so that he can work out his own feelings and frustrations (and Jordan, being smart, doesn't let it affect her) 

John has some excuse for sitting at home in front of the computer most of the time (he also records entries in a video diary, posted on his personal website for all to see) -- he's become housebound since his fiance up and dumped him. But why should his thoughts and his life in such a state be of interest to anyone else? He's a turnip sitting in front of a screen. The filmmakers have spent so much time creating multiple views of the action, multiple computer graphics, multiple screens within screens that they figured any distinguishing quality that wold make the characters and story insightful would fill itself in as things went along. Instead, the film streams in and out of your head, but it leaves a peculiar aftereffect -- the intimation that we're turning into a world of onanists, staring into little boxes before our laps and having encounters where we question not the nature of experience but whether or not to increase your size.

Directed by:
Jed Weintrob

Starring:
Josh Hamilton
Harold Perrineau
Isabel Gillies
Eric Millegan
John Fleck 
Vanessa Ferlito

Written by:
Andrew Osborne
Jed Weintrob

Rated:
R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult
guardian.

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