Film Journal 2023: Blackberry
Directed by Matt Johnson
The film’s grainy texture compliments the nostalgic vibes, while the hand held camera melds nicely with the real life news footage interspersed throughout the story. The nostalgic vibes run underneath a story that feels, at this point in time, as forgotten as it was the day Apple announced its iPhone. Thank goodness for this sudden interest in older properties. A film about Air Jordan. Tetris. The pinball machine. A weird trend to be sure, but given the quality of those aforementioned films, I’m here for it.
I’m tempted to say this is a story so crazy it seems impossible to believe. However, the film’s “fictionalized” take on real world events works as well as it does becasue it feels far too indebted to its inspiration to be made up.
It would be an understatement to suggest this is a story about capitalism run amok. This is a depiction of a world tied to its ruthless system, governed as it is by money that doesn’t exist, hostile takeovers that threaten at every turn, the looming threat of rising and crashing stocks, and of course rich powerful men. There is something unsettling about the fact that this is what drives such legacies. How fickle and fragile it is. Here it is Tmthe person who comes up with the idea who becomes lost to time, with corporate corruption ruling the day. Even more unsettling is to realize how the consumers who are both controlled by the system and simultaneously the ones who feed it. It’s what makes the world go round.
The film does an expert job of handling the tonal shift that occurs at a pivotal point in the story. It captures the abruptness of the whole enterprise moving from the energy of a group of young, inspired minds to the hostile takeover of their dreams. The irony being that their inspiration hinges on this hostile takeover being a thing. How else does the blackberry make it’s way out into the world, becoming the seedbed for Apples hostile takeover.
The first words I uttered about this film, out loud while walking out of my viewing, was “that was stressful”. It is absolutely that captivating and that absorbing. The casting is so spot on, creating not just a portrait of a corrupt system but filling it with unsettling figures ready to be despised. The “co-CEO” who comes in with the promise of changing these young persons lives just might be one of the more memorable villains of the last while. Fits the persona so perfectly. And it’s such a bizarre story to tell simply in it’s own right. Like a train wreck you can’t look away from. And yet one you both want to cheer for and against all at the same time. This film creates the space to choose your poison, which is what makes it so dang entertaining.
Shout out as well to the film’s Canadian roots too. Or perhaps more to the point, this is Waterloo, and don’t you forget it. So get out there and support good Canadian film while you have the opportunity.