Bug is William Friedkin’s best film in at least two decades, a compliment that must be tempered by the disclaimer that, after its first thirty minutes, this adaptation of Tracy Letts’ stage play (written by Letts) begins to lose its sure-footing. Those first thirty minutes, though, are something else, achieving an exhilarating sense of foreboding and unease – like the world was balanced on the precipice of insanity – that hits one’s nerves dead-center. A nocturnal aerial zoom across the rural Oklahoma landscape into a close-up of Ashley Judd, with the sound of whirring helicopter blades (or flapping insect wings?) growing in intensity, is the bravura starting point for this claustrophobic tale of Agnes (Judd), a drunk terrified of her menacing husband (Harry Connick Jr.) recently paroled from prison, and Peter (World Trade Center’s Michael Shannon), a socially awkward stranger who comes to stay in Agnes’ motel room home and who, it soon becomes clear, is a few cards shy of a full deck. What begins as a relationship of co-dependence – he providing her with kindness and protection, she offering him friendship in return – soon devolves into a romance of mass psychosis, as Peter convinces Agnes that they’re being ravaged by tiny, government-engineered flesh-eating bugs. A feverish montage of fluids, body parts and insect imagery casts Peter’s delusion as something akin to a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease. Yet as the film progresses ever further into crazy (including a third-act set entirely in a tinfoil-lined room), the material’s roots as a two-act stagebound piece become more frustratingly evident, and Friedkin’s direction – though still able to provide sharp visual complements for his story’s themes – loses some of its verve. Thankfully, though, the same can’t be said about the extremely out-there performances of Judd and Shannon, with the latter’s portrait of insanity so fervently committed and unleashed that it’s simply astounding.
Interesting post/description of BUG. I've yet to see it though I have been curious about how it would translate from stage to screen. I have not seen it on stage but a student of mine described a production he saw to me in every gorry detail - he was totally wierded out by it - a production in a small theater. Not sure if I want to see it on stage or screen first.
Posted by: Vergingwriter | June 25, 2007 at 11:07 PM
I just watched this and I wish I were someplace it could be seen as a stage production. This totally gripped me as the most beautiful romance I've seen since Leaving Las Vegas. I can totally relate to lots of it having undergone a few months worth of amphetamine psychosis myself and I was so close to the tinfoil stage and this movie makes me wish I'd shared those insane months with a partner sharing all the insanity and had someone to help me pick the worms out of me and fuel my delusions into even more awesome psychosis. This movie made me jones for insanity. I think it's just beautiful and it's just like I said..I can't decide which is a better romance, this or Nicolas Cage drinking himself to death with a hooker.
Posted by: Tebo Shepherd | January 24, 2012 at 09:45 PM