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6th April 2022

MANIFF 2022: Poser

MANIFF 2022: Poser combines podcasting and niche musicians to depict the obsessions of a less basic than she’d like to admit young 20 something in New York
MANIFF 2022: Poser

Poser opens on a close up of a contemporary painting. As the camera moves gradually across the art, we hear a critic describing his interpretation of the artist’s intent and use of deliberately erratic lines. His commentary is an apt beginning for what transpires to be a bizarre dramatic comedy.

Like every Gen-Z kid, Lennon (Sylvie Mix) wants to start a podcast. She begins by constantly recording soundbites on her iPhone, mapping the world around her through sound in often disorientating ways for audiences. After storing her recording of the art gallery critic with the rest of her carefully labelled, vaguely retro, cassette collection, she zeroes in on her chosen niche: New York’s underground music scene. This leads Lennon to embark on a series of interviews with various musicians in order to capture this undiscovered sound. 

Cue a fast paced interview montage . And yet, despite supposedly loving music, Lennon never seems that emotionally invested in the conversations she later records in her notebook. On top of this, audiences begin to witness an unpleasant aspect of her character. When performing a song to musicians Bobbi Kitten (herself) and Micah (Abdul Seidu), Lennon suggests that she wrote it, when in fact she is using someone else’s lyrics for her own gain. 

Lennon’s imitations really take shape with close up shots of her mimicking Bobbi’s makeup and performance in a mirror, copying from a video of one of Bobbi’s gigs. Whilst the smokey eye makeup and sexual body movements don’t suit her (a well executed choice by the film’s directors Noah Dixon and Ori Segev), it’s a nice relief from Lennon’s constant lip nibbling during the rest of the film. 

We also see Lennon’s difficult relationship with her sister, conducted mainly over glasses of wine in fancy restaurants. The siblings don’t talk to as much as at each other. Lennon’s sister also provides financial stability via a cash-filled envelope to go alongside Lennon’s waitressing job. 

Aesthetically, the film’s club scenes and music venues create an immersive, cosy underground atmosphere. The music is pleasant and the well constructed shots show Lennon’s separateness from the music she so desperately desires to be a part of. 

However, Lennon’s purposeful quietness and one dimensionality makes her appear as blank as the canvases layered with the vibrant art we see throughout. Although this makes her perfect for acquiring a new personality, as she tries to do, she bored me. Not great for a protagonist. 

Perhaps then, one of the best things about Poser was its 93 minute run time. As an almost abstract piece of cinema, it was engaging but not necessarily captivating. I imagine one can achieve a similar feeling by actually going to underground music gigs, rather than sitting in a dark cinema watching them from a distance.


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