On_Line Movie Review

Our culture is spending too much time online (shame on you, readers!) So making a movie about being an Internet surfer looking for love in all the wrong places feels redundant -- why would you want to watch a movie about searching for sex and love and, oh yeah, human connection via the Almighty Computer?

On_Line isn't even really a movie in the traditional sense. It feels more like a Web site. The cinematic frame, if you can call it that, is filled up with "pop up windows" as characters talk with one another over webcam. It's a distracting back and forth electronic collage, as bright young slacker John (Josh Hamilton, The House of Yes), suicidal waif Moira (Isabel Gillies), foxy sex goddess Jordan (Vanessa Ferlito), gay best friend Al (John Fleck), and other techno-geek characters communicate over the desktop.

If this use of split-screen storytelling seems familiar -- just in time to compete with Ang Lee's Hulk -- it's probably because you're waiting for the flashing banner ad to appear. Granted, there are actual scenes where the characters aren't sitting at their computers chatting away, or pining away in their live feed web diaries. But those scenes are so sloppily shot and poorly lit, using crappy-looking digital video, that you'll be screaming for the characters to hurry up and get back on the World Wide Web.

John hooks up with Jordan online, but the spice of their Internet relationship ain't there in the real world. John's roommate Moe (Harold Perrineau Jr.) seduces Jordan and Moira, and his friendship and business partnership with John goes on the rocks. An attempted suicide and a gay relationship round out the soap opera mechanics of the rather slim plot, as On_Line doesn't really invest in these computer drones as personalities. They're part of the machine, and they wind up with less personality than HAL from 2001.

If On_Line fails as a narrative, as a techno-collage, as a love story (these ciphers are more in love with their gadgets and their egos than with each other), or as a technical innovation, at least it can purport to be the first movie showing foreplay-to-climax sex chat masturbation sequences. But if that's all you're interested in you can probably find it on your computer instead of wasting a trip to the movie theater. On_Line reveals the desperation of all-day-long computer users, but it gazes so deep into its own navel that it doesn't reveal who they are, or what they dream.

DVD extras include a number of short deleted scenes, two commentary tracks, a making-of flick, and an inventive split-screen featurette. A little history of the webcam is also thrown in.

Aka On Line.

She's waiting for your click.


On_Line Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, 2003


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