Fandom Movie Review
The topic couldn't be more appropriate given the celebrity-obsessed time in which we find ourselves living. Tucker and his cameraman Lucas Abel set out to examine the world of obsessed fans, focusing on a disturbingly large group of groupies who are entranced by actress Natalie Portman. They find one of their best interview subjects in Gordon Coleman (Mark Hefti), a 20-something Californian who has given over his life to his pursuit of the young actress.
It's immediately apparent that Gordon is not all there. Is he developmentally disabled? Is he borderline autistic, obsessing over Natalie the way other autism sufferers obsess over train schedules? Is he just nuts? There's no official diagnosis, but there's no doubt that Gordon is one sick pup. His redneck father doesn't know quite what to make of him. His sister seems to understand that he's "special" but considers him harmless. Gordon's co-workers at the yarn shop where he works (he's an expert knitter) love him to death.
Gordon soon reveals that he has acquired an invitation to meet Natalie Portman at an event in Boston, and the two filmmakers realize they can't miss this opportunity to see what happens when Gordon actually comes in contact with the object of his obsession. Their hope: that he'll spontaneously combust. They offer to drive him cross-country, and away they go.
The ride across America is rough going. Gordon's mental illness is more readily apparent in the close quarters of the car and the motel rooms. He spins wild tales, is oversensitive and prone to tantrums, and can't stand the least bit of teasing. More than once he opens the car door and attempts to hurl himself on the highway. The filmmakers love all this, and they're one part compassionate and three parts cruel as they taunt Gordon and ask him to substantiate his wild claims. One night they get him drunk, a very big mistake.
Intercut throughout are interviews with other Natalie obsessives they've found on the Internet, and each is as scary as Gordon is. None will admit to an obsession; rather, they simply claim deep respect for an actress so talented, beautiful, and well-educated.
The closer the trio gets to Boston, the more agitated Gordon becomes. He begins to say that he can't meet Natalie until he finishes knitting her a blanket, and he still has weeks to go. But Nick and Lucas push Gordon toward his ultimate Natalie moment, hoping for some great footage, and the suspense is real. What the hell is going to happen?
As an exercise in improvisation, Fandom is a total success. As an indictment of celebrity culture, it's less successful but still compelling. One wonders if Natalie Portman has seen this movie. One wonders if she's scared.