Directed by: Josh Trank
Starring: Michael B. Jordon
3 out of 4 stars
Chronicle made me love the found footage genre a lot more.
Using the superhero mythos as its setting, the subjectivity of the hand held camera adds an intriguing feature to moviegoers looking for fantastical escape.
Many scenes offer such experiences, the notable one being three teenagers flying through the clouds. It all seems like an intense lucid dream, one that we’d never want to wake from because of the erotic pleasure of possessing indescribable power.
One might say that redundant clichés are in the mix. The story revolves around Andrew, an introverted and troubled teenager with a troubled home life, as he lives in fear of his abusive father. The worries don’t stop there: at high school he is bullied and eats lunch by himself on the bleachers. What little connection he has with humanity is with his dying mother, who Andrew cherishes, his cousin Matt, popular and willing to pull Andrew out of his shell, and Steve, the student council candidate who takes a sympathetic liking to him.
Surprisingly, these reused elements make for a refreshing concept. The plot kicks off with Andrew deciding to document his life through video. He doesn’t explain why, but it seems to come from an inner need to communicate.
In today’s age of information, the lens and screen are the most popular means to record and review our lives. But where the average Tweeter or YouTube uploader does it for networking, Andrew is attempting to fulfill suppressed needs. As the film plays out, the audience sees, through the camera lens, the potential horror of such angst.
Andrew, Matt and Steve discover an unknown relic underground. It disorients them. The story cuts to a different time, and there is mystery to the events in between. The next part of the film sees these newborn prodigies flexing their psychokinetic muscles and features them pulling particularly amusing antics in a toy store.
Things start getting complicated, however, after an accident hurts someone. They put their powers in perspective and come up with rules, a philosophical necessity for beings aware of personal power.
From here, the film transitions from comic entertainment to an ethical thought experiment. Matt and Steve give Andrew the opportunity to make friends, only to do wrong by him. His fears torment him again, and he starts to justify abusing his powers with Darwin’s “apex predator.”
The term claims the strongest species in an ecosystem will, by natural right, dominate its environment. As tragedy unfolds, Chronicle is a prime example of misconstrued theories gone awry.
My favourite thing about this film is the use of cameras, and what it means for an event to be a “chronicle” today. Throughout the film, Andrew changes the genre by levitating his own camera to record himself in action. The subjective recorder becomes one and the same as the objective observer, and makes for a really uniquely engaging experience.
The final act of the movie is dark, and shows Andrew out in public with his rage. His fascination to document himself is extrapolated into the camera phones of witnessing bystanders: he pulls in as many different perspectives as he can get to watch him at his monstrous peak.
By becoming the god of his own chronicle, Andrew only proves that clinging to the past will only return to stab you in the back.