Review: ‘Indie Game: The Movie’

Yet another docu portrait of the artist as a brilliant young geek, "Indie Game: The Movie" tracks four variously neurotic programming geniuses bringing their pored-over wares to market.

Yet another docu portrait of the artist as a brilliant young geek, “Indie Game: The Movie” tracks the hyper-obsessive designer of Fez, a single-player videogame several years in the making (and still unreleased), along with three other variously neurotic indie programming geniuses bringing their pored-over wares to market. Though the intermittently snappy Canuck pic took a documentary editing award at Sundance, it plays at least 20 minutes too long — which might explain HBO’s recent purchase of rights to adapt the film into a half-hour TV series. Albeit not for everyone, “Indie Game” does bring its joystick-jockeying subculture to life.

The pic scores big points by drawing a sharp distinction between corporate vidgame programmers and indies, who work alone or in contentious pairs while flaunting narrative flaws and character vulnerabilities, the difference bearing a relation to the gap between Hollywood product and low-budget art cinema. Though all four sleepless subjects represent the mixed blessing of acute anxiety as it relates to subversive creativity, the pic’s most compelling story by far is that of four-eyed Fez designer Phil Fish, whose love of the game is so deep he can’t finish it.

Indie Game: The Movie

Canada

Production

A BlinkWorks presentation of a Flutter Media production. (International sales: The Film Sales Co., New York.) Produced by Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky. Executive producers, Jeff Lindsay, John McCullah, Jourdain Pajot, Ken Schachter, Matthew Swirsky. Directed, edited by Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Pajot, Swirsky; music, Jim Guthrie; visual effects, Swirsky. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 21, 2012. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Edmund McMillen, Tommy Refenes, Phil Fish, Jonathan Blow, Gus Mastrapa, Danielle McMillen.

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