Directed by Rupert Murray
Running Time: 1:28
for drug references and brief strong language.
Unknown White Male could have been an interesting film, but I never quite bought into it and wonder if this entire thing is an elaborate hoax.
Doug Bruce wakes up one morning on the subway and can't remember anything about his life. He is dealing with a type of amnesia where you forget everything about your past and can't remember your own name. After a couple of days in a police station, the police manage to track down someone who recognizes him, and that's where his journey into his life begins. Armed with a video camera, he tracks his new life, meeting people all over again for the first time. An ex-girlfriend flies into town, he flies to meet his parents and his old school buddies. It's a strange world where everyone knows you, but you don't know them. These people were your friends, but you have to learn all over again, why.
I guess my biggest issue with Unknown White Male is that I never felt any connection to this guy. I felt bad for him, but the way the movie was shot and edited, I never got close to him. And because of that, I honestly started to wonder if any of this was real, or I was being toyed with. It seemed strange that there would be all this footage they could use in a movie. It was a few months before he meets up with his old school chum Rupert who decides to make a documentary, but everything before that was still filmed. If a man can't remember his own life, why would he decide to film everything? Because there was a video camera lying around? I suppose I can sort of understand it, but at the same time, it was never explained.
Then there was the editing. There were so many jumps and cuts and long shots of absolutely nothing that I got bored. And since I was never emotionally connected with Doug I never felt like I needed to know what happened next. Since this is a documentary, I knew that there was a good chance there wouldn't be a happy ending where suddenly he remembers everything, but I was hoping for something uplifting. Even when he gets a new girlfriend his attitude is very blasé. Months after his amnesia started he still doesn't seem to care about anything. Nothing makes him happy, nothing makes him sad. He just is.
There were doctors brought in from time to time to talk about amnesia, but I never felt like I was learning anything. Was there treatment? Had this happened before and people recovered? What about showing other amnesia victims and how they dealt with it? This man isn't an island. There are others in the world like him, so how about giving his some perspective? Interviews with his friends didn't show much either. It was mostly, oh, yeah, he was a nice guy but now he doesn't know me, so we'll have to learn to be friends again. It never got very deep or moving and that also played into the disconnect I felt with Doug. Why did no one question what happened? Wouldn't there be at least some interest in figuring out what he was doing that night? How he ended up on the subway? What was his life like immediately before the amnesia? I suppose it makes the movie more 'mysterious' if you don't answer these questions, but considering I never cared for Doug, I would have appreciated more insight into his surroundings.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, Unknown White Male could have been a fascinating documentary about what happens when you forget your life, but instead turned into just a movie about a guy. Nothing more, nothing less.
Netflix lets you rent, watch and return DVDs from home – Now from only a month!