I'm not even sure how I found out about Poser anymore, but I knew right away that this was a film I wanted to see. Not that I'm all that big on underground/indie scenes from lesser-known American cities, but everything about this film radiated a certain genuine youthfulness that is very rare and difficult to find. A poster and 20 seconds of the trailer were all I needed, luckily, Poser didn't disappoint in the slightest. There's ample room to grow for Dixon and Segev, still, this felt like such a breath of fresh air that it made it impossible for me to dislike the film.
There's a lot of talk about diversity nowadays, but there's one broader group that is often neglected when it comes to directorial opportunities: young people. Regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation, there aren't many films directed by 20/30-somethings, and the few there are tend to be roughly matched with the cinematic rules and expectations dictated by those who came before. Considering the money and effort required to make a film it's somewhat understandable, but it holds back the medium and it explains why cinema is such a slow-moving and relatively unadventurous art form.
Poser is a film that is rooted in the Columbus (Ohio) underground music scene, a place where young people come together to discuss art and make art while being enveloped in the process of discovering their true selves. It's a world disconnected from the"old world", one that was established by previous generations, which is something that speaks to me. It helps that some of the actors play (a slightly adapted version of) themselves, being part of that very scene, lending the film that little extra credibility. While all of this had the potential to turn pompous and self-serious, there's a layer of reflective and self-deprecating humor preventing the film from falling into that particular trap.
The plot revolves around Lennon, a soft-spoken and rather demure girl who starts a podcast to step outside of her comfort zone. She dives into the local music scene and seeks out unknown artists to interview them. That's how she comes into contact with Bobbi Kitten, a local legend and lead singer in a dance/pop/whatever duo. Bobbi is intrigued by Lennon and the two become good friends, even more so when Lennon turns out to have a creative streak of her own. What Bobbi doesn't know is that Lennon is quite studious in her approach to getting close to people, and not everything about her is what it seems.
The cinematography is definitely above par, though it is also pretty expected for this type of film. There are some rather atmospheric montages, sometimes the camera remains still and keeps a tight focus, and at other times it gets close up with the characters to create a more intimate mood. The editing is snappy and timed perfectly. The cinematography does well representing the vibe of the city and that of the lead characters, making it easy for the audience to sink into the film. Do I think they could've pushed it a little further? Sure, but that's mostly nitpicking.
What I loved about the soundtrack is that it doesn't get stuck in a single genre (namely the typical indie slash singer-songwriter scene). There's spoken word, rap, rock, pop/dance, and even some EDM, and it all sounds pretty believable. None of it fully matched my personal preference, but as long as a director makes good use of the music that doesn't matter too much. Having the actual local music scene providing the soundtrack was a logical (but very smart) choice, and it really paid off, especially in combination with the moody visuals. No complaints here.
The biggest plus is that the two leads are part of the very world this movie's based on, allowing them to tap into their personal experiences. It also made it easier for them to poke a little fun at themselves, so the film didn't become too self-absorbed and self-important. Sylvia Mix and Bobbi Kitten are playing fictional versions of their own selves, that only seem to diverge from reality because of the narrative thrust upon them. Their core characteristics feel very close to home though, which again lends the film extra credibility. The rest of the cast is solid too, but the focus lies with the two leading ladies and they deserve all the credit.
Poser is a film by and for younger people, or at least an audience who respects the younger generations and their often greedy thirst to explore and define themselves. If you like to rate films according to perceived wokeness or you dislike characteristics that are inherent to young individuals seeking out their identity this isn't going to be a smash hit. There are some small thriller and mystery elements that shine through in the third and final part of the film, but they won't be enough to convince people unaffected by the drama and the setting. Personally, I really appreciated the little genre diversion at the end.
There is something wildly intriguing about young people carving out their own way through life, for that reason alone a film like Poser is worth championing. Sadly very few films dare or are able to tap into this phenomenon. It's not all Poser has to offer either. Slick and atmospheric cinematography, an appropriate and varied score, and stellar performances further increase the appeal. It's a little diamond in the rough, but I fear it is doomed to slip into obscurity as it won't be getting the needed backing from the usual hype channels. Dixon and Segev are two fresh talents, I can't wait to see what they do next.