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[NIGHTSTREAM 2021] ‘Poser’ review: Quiet podcast drama feels confused

Do you like music?

Poser follows Lennon, a young hipster in Columbus, OH, as she tries to create a podcast. Lennon wants to interview and hang out with underground musicians (“bands that you’ve probably never heard of”). She works at a restaurant and spends most of her time admiring – and talking to – artists. 

The bands Lennon interviews throw around familiar buzzwords and so does she. She records all of her podcasts on her iPhone, and then transfers them to cassette tape; it’s extremely gimmicky. WYD and Damn The Witch Siren feature prominently in Poser, and while it is nice to hear and see these bands, Poser has a self-indulgent feel to it that will feel really familiar to anyone who’s spent a lot of time in college hipster towns (or to anyone who’s seen High Fidelity, really). 

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Lennon narrates a description of “the old north district” of Columbus, where all the artists live. Every small city has this area, it seems; where you can find shows in crummy bars and folk shows where everyone sits on the floor. Where you can find a room of people smoking weed and thinking they look super cool. There’s a scene where Lennon is doing just that with musician Bobbi Kitten and poet/musician Micah (Abdul Seidu), and the scene feels like a parody of this type of moment, this particular breed of hipster. 

There are quite a few moments in Poser that border on parody. The family indie band, a performance art scene, half the stuff that comes out of Lennon’s mouth. While the first act of the film certainly feels like a caricature of the indie music scene in Columbus (and other small cities with big music scenes), Poser takes a bit of a turn once Bobbi and Lennon start hanging out more. 

Poser

Poser

Bobbi Kitten of Damn the Witch Siren stars as herself, the polar opposite to Sylvie Mix’s shy and reserved Lennon. Once the two meet, Lennon clings to Bobbi. Lennon tells Bobbi that she’s working on getting outside of her comfort zone; it’s not the first time we’ve heard Lennon say this, and we come to realize that much of what she says is rehearsed. 

Like any good film about music, Poser has a strong soundtrack. The muted visuals of the film allow for sound to direct the film’s mood and tone. There’s a balance to be maintained here, and sometimes Poser does lean too heavily on sound, especially in scenes that are meant to be suspenseful and tense. 

Poser is the directorial debut of Noah Dixon and Ori Segev, and it’s a nice study of a lost and searching soul. Sylvie Mix is quietly entrancing as the outsider who just wants to fit in, but her blank, questioning stare feels genuinely empty at times and overall her performance is hollow. She’s got a great voice for podcasting, but despite the character’s exposition by narration, it ultimately feels like Lennon’s motivations are one-dimensional. 

Poser – and Sylvie Mix – have a lot of potential, but both the plot and the character of Lennon get lost somewhere. Between montages of Lennon trying to fit in with the hip crowd, and too-quick scenes of her going to work and getting lunch with her sister, we don’t really know anything about Lennon as a person. This brief insight into Lennon’s life isn’t enough to make us care about her, believe her story, or understand anything that she does in the final act. 

The last act of the film makes a big jump into Single White Female territory, which any audience would see coming. Poser’s ascent to the climax is slow and deliberate, the final moments of the film not nearly as surprising as they should be. Poser just might be trying too hard.

Nightstream takes place virtually from October 7 – October 13

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