Quick Hit: Absolutely batty and kind of glorious at the same time.
We watched the movie A Cure for Wellness a while back – it was one of those movies that quickly derails, but is the epitome of “can’t look away” because it’s absolutely bonkers. These type of movies really don’t come along very often, and that is one of the reasons I’m most glad that Shannon and I don’t just stick to what is out in theaters (my wallet is glad about it too). Otherwise, I would never have seen Bug, a movie that somehow stars Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd.
To give a brief summary is almost a complete misnomer – so instead let’s leave it at the fact that two damaged people find each other and then lose their minds (maybe).
Michael Shannon is absolutely knock-down drag-out awesome in this. His character exhibits a wide array of reactions and movements including, but not limited to: Hysterical screaming, seizures, sexual intercourse, paranoia, drunkenness, love, and loneliness. He not only takes these in stride but he also is believable. The whole point of Bug hinges on the fact that the character of Peter Evans is believable, and in this case the film sells it. Another solid case to be made for this movie is Ashley Judd, nearly unrecognizable as a beat down woman. As these two characters grow together, it’s no wonder that the movie starts to feel like story about outsiders.
One of my favorite things about this movie was the fact that almost all the action takes place inside the tiny little apartment that Agnes (Judd) has. The film was originally a stage play (starring Michael Shannon himself), and the film has an intense theatre feel to it. All the movement feels staged to play to an audience’s perspective, and it leads to you really getting invested in the film.
However… this film is weird as all get out, and doesn’t entirely succeed in it.
William Friedkin, of The Exorcist directs this movie. He does so fairly confidently – frequently allowing the actors to carry the moments. But some of the big moments toward the end of the film feel muted. Part of that may have to do with the coloration. At the end of the film, almost everything is shot in blue and it really heightens the surreal feel. But things go from being fuzzy (at best) to just downright confusing. I’m sure a lot of this is purposely left up to interpretation, but the movie loses so much of the power that it’s had throughout. Instead we end up with a bunch of crazies in a room. Shannon is still AWESOME, but I can’t help but thing that the film could have been a little bit better in its final act.
So if you’re looking for a movie that will confuse you, render you raptured at times, bore you at others, but features a little known positively bonkers performance by Michael Shannon, check out Bug. I don’t think you’ll be upset. The movie itself feels like a fever dream mixed with cold medicine. I’m giving Bug a generous “C+”.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"