On the Doll (DVD Review)15 Jun, 2008 By: David Greenberg
Stars Brittany Snow, Josh Janowicz, Paul Ben-Victor, Clayne Crawford, Marcus Giamatti, Shanna Collins.
Fans of the Crash, Babel and 21 Grams school of intersecting plots will find a lot to grasp in veteran music video director Thomas Mignone's feature debut. Interestingly, while the film takes a similar structural approach, it aims inward, focusing more on smaller, interpersonal dynamics rather than exploring bigger, weightier, worldly issues like the better-known films it resembles. The intimate scope of the film works so well here because, at the heart and soul of the piece, the central theme is sex.
The three main scenarios focus on young people working in and around the sex industry in varying degrees: weary young call girls (Snow and Collins), a young man (Janowicz) who edits the adult classified ads for a local paper, and two misguided high-schoolers (Chloe Domont and Candice Accola) breaking into Internet porn.
The overall effect of the structure shifting between the various storylines is one that both examines the nature of sex as a commodity but also thoroughly addresses the issue of sexual abuse and the devastating long-term fallout that often comes as a result of it.
Mignone's production and uniformly excellent cast (including a dynamic young-Kevin Bacon/Ray Liotta-like performance by Crawford and great cameos by Theresa Russell and James Russo) deserve ample praise for the intelligent and sensitive way they explore these issues, choosing to take the high road and provoke review of the situation rather than the low road, which could have easily resulted in a film that was more about titillation and exploitation.
It must be noted that, in a film in which sex is such a focal point, there is barely, if any, sex or nudity. Conversely, that should not be taken to imply that the film does not deserve at least an ‘R' rating.