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When the form is more important than the meaning: a review of the film “Not in itself” shot by the iPhone from Stephen Soderbergh

Frame Bleecker Street

On March 29, in the Russian cinemas, the movie “Not In Yourself” was released from director Stephen Soderbergh, who is best known for working on the “Ocean’s trilogy” trilogy. To shoot the picture used only iPhone 7 Plus with various accessories.

Soderbergh shot a movie for real pennies on Hollywood standards – with a budget of 1.5 million dollars, taking into account the world release. The shooting took only a week, and the director started to install on the set. Soderbergh himself spoke of the work on the picture exceptionally positively: he praised the iPhone, calling it “the future of the film industry,” and said that it was his “freest experience as a director.”
looked at the picture and figured out how the use of the iPhone 7 Plus camera influenced the perception of the film and whether it really was a necessity.

Caution, the text may contain minor spoilers!

“Not in itself” tells about the girl Sawyer (the heroine of Claire Foy), who complains of the persecution and online stalking to the doctor in a psychiatric hospital and she is there herself locked up. As in Robert Schwentke’s “Illusion of Flight,” the first half of the film “flirts” with the audience, leaving an intrigue. It is unclear whether the heroine is actually being persecuted or she has gone mad and sees what is not.

The picture begins as the second season of a series: the heroine moves to a new city, gets a new job and starts life with a clean slate. Spectators seem to already know about her almost everything and therefore they are interested in watching her boring working days. However, because of this, the first third of the film tires – there is almost no action, and the character Claire Foy is very poorly disclosed.

The main part of the action takes place in the walls of a psychiatric hospital. The most interesting begins when the heroine is locked there: from this moment and almost to the end the picture turns into an exemplary thriller. Few would like to be locked up among the mentally ill people against their will, then you might wonder: “Maybe I’m really going crazy.”

However, the authors for some reason do not stay long on this idea and already in the middle of the film put all the points over the “i”. After that, the picture begins to play on one of the most pressing topics of today’s Hollywood – sexual harassment.

In the end, “Not in yourself” turns into a film about how far a person can go, who without any reasons decided that someone loves.

Personally, this storyline only pleased me, because simple stories about the horrors in mental hospitals have long been in the cinema in a bad tone. Therefore, scriptwriters “Not in themselves” are only teased with this idea, but in the end the story goes to another direction.

Toward the end of the film, the heroine begins to go crazy more and the plot along with her: it’s hard to say whether this was so conceived or whether the authors were too lazy to work on the second part. If at the beginning of the picture it is possible to believe in what is happening, then towards the end the story turns into a sur, and ends in the spirit of the first “Alien”, where the main heroine famously won in many ways a superior monster.

Nevertheless, the scene with the room deserves special praise: the Foy character behaves in it so rationally and logically, shaking the state of the antagonist and manipulating him, that he wants to get out of his chair and ask the Hollywood screenwriters at the top of his voice, why the characters in other films can not do the same.

“Not in itself” is not quite a horror film, as the Western press tries to call it and advertises the distributor. It is rather an attempt to draw attention to the problem of persecution, which it is customary not to notice. There are terrible moments here, but most of them are set so that you can not get frightened. The most creepy scenes of the film are related to the indifference of those around to the complaints of the heroine: no one simply believes that she is telling the truth.

Technically, the movie is not perfect, but the iPhone 7 Plus mobile camera, albeit with additional tweaks, but delivers incredible viewing experience. Thanks to the iPhone it is possible to get a much deeper effect of immersion than with professional cameras.

A shot from shooting “Not in itself”. Photos Bleecker Street

In America, Soderberg was scolded for using a smartphone for nothing and could take it off as usual. However, in the case of “Not in yourself”, the effect of the mobile camera is a means of expressing the idea and adds the sensation of a strange mocumentary to the film pseudo-documentary film in the format of “found film”). I’m used to seeing the result of using the iPhone camera in the video in instagram and on YouTube, so at first it causes strange feelings, but immediately immerses.

Soderbergh was not the first director to shoot the film entirely for iPhones, but the first of the famous and large directors who got close to the format. On the example of “Not in himself” he proved that a good director can take an iPhone, a little equipment, get a pair of little-known actors (and Matt Damon), spend a week and make a feature film that will be shown in cinemas around the world.

I want to believe that other famous directors will decide on similar experiments, but for now they think that Stephen Soderbergh has already started shooting his second film only for iPhones.

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