Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau's Slamdance winner plays like a mockumentary — and an only moderately amusing one, at that.
“Elliot” won the jury award for best documentary feature at Slamdance, although frankly much of its content appears so perfectly boobish, in a low-budget Christopher Guest-imitating mode, that at times you might suspect you’re watching a mockumentary — and an only moderately amusing one, at that. In the tradition of “American Movie” and “Audience of One,” the film chronicles Elliot “White Lightning” Scott, a purported martial-arts champion aspiring to become “Canada’s first action hero,” as he shoots his latest amateur screen epic. If at first we take him as delusional but harmless, by the end we see him through a long-suffering g.f.’s eyes as a liar, user, narcissist and general loser. This exercise in Stupid People Tricks is funny in spots, but not enough to tempt more than nominal home-turf commercial exposure.
Fancying himself Nova Scotia’s answer to Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee — though his moves look none too impressive, at one point here reducing a Chinese tai chi instructor to unkind laughter — Scott apparently self-distributed a couple of no-budget auctioneers previously. Now he’s making what he’s sure will be his breakthrough, “Blood Fight,” with his even more hapless soundtrack composer/friend, Blake Zwicker, as a supporting actor.
Also cast is live-in girlfriend, Linda Lum, who is really getting fed up with his unreliability, pipe dreams, marriage-proposal procrastination and disinterest in paying any household expenses. At one point he manages to go on an acupuncture class trip to China, his dream of becoming the white martial-arts star who wows real Asians (especially the female kind, whom he “has a thing for”) coming true at last. Or so he thinks, with zero evidence to back him up.
As his dealings get shadier and less whimsically forgivable (notably when he uses Lum’s weekend absence to play casting-couch director), we begin to share her view that perhaps he’s just a massive jerk in a very small pond. Like its namesake, “Elliot” just kinda drifts away in the end, having achieved a few chuckles but arrived at no real climax or resolution. Packaging is fairly polished by verite standards.
Slamdance Film Review: 'Elliot'
Reviewed online, San Francisco, Jan. 13, 2014. (In Slamdance Film Festival — competing.) Running time: 98 MIN.
(Documentary — Canada) A Garage Doc Films presentation. Produced by Jaret Belliveau, Matthew Bauckman. Co-producer, David Eberts.
Directed, edited by Matthew Bauckman, Jaret Belliveau. Camera (color, HD), Bauckman, Belliveau; music, Blair Bayers; sound, Nathan Jones.
Elliot Scott, Linda Lum, Blake Zwicker, Blair Bayers, Radafy Ranaivo, Jeremiah Boutilier, Ravee Chen, Glen Koshi, Angela Keating, Hannah Le, Diana Li. (English, Mandarin dialogue)