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“Infamous” Wants To Be A Crime Tale For The Social Media Age

We live during a time where every single aspect of our daily existence can be documented on Social Media. There are celebrities who are only famous for being famous, or through being an “influencer” on sites like Instagram. Criminals are even caught because they brag about their crimes on Social Media. So, seeing a film like Infamous try and take that to its cinematic extreme, makes sense. Now, the flick itself is fairly mediocre, but the idea at its core is a solid one. With better execution, this could have been something. Instead, it’s just another forgettable effort that can’t live up to its initial promise.

The movie is a crime tale, taking some of its cues from Bonnie and Clyde. Here, Arielle (Bella Thorne) is a resident of a small Florida town, yearning for more. She has a tough home life, vacuous friends, and a menial job at a diner. She dreams of being famous, however. Arielle may not know what she’ll be admired and popular for, but she knows fame is in her future. The dreariness of her day to day existence its interrupted when she meets and quickly falls for Dean (Jake Manley), a recently paroled young man with a potentially dangerous past. Dean seems keen on Arielle as well, but circumstances force them together, heading out on the run. There, they stumble upon a way for Arielle to gain her notoriety…live-streaming petty robberies. Social Media latches on to the pair, which also puts the law on their tale. As things get riskier and riskier, with lives being lost, the dream of heading to Hollywood gives way to trying to stay alive and out of police custody. Joshua Caldwell writes and directs, with music from Bill Brown, as well as cinematography by Eve Cohen. Supporting players include Billy Blair, Marisa Coughlan, Amber Riley, and more.

Things start out here with a lot of promise, before devolving around the midway point. The initial focus just on Bella Thorne’s Arielle is fairly interesting, following her menial life and dreams for something more. It’s when they go on the lamb and begin actually committing crimes that the premise is proven to be paper thin. Thorne is solid, and so too is Jake Manley, but their dialogue from filmmaker Joshua Caldwell leaves a lot to be desired. Caldwell clearly is playing around with his Bonnie and Clyde via Social Media theme, but there isn’t a lot to it all. When it’s more of a character study, things are on firmer ground.

Infamous is a movie that thinks that it’s saying more than it is. Writer/director Caldwell paints himself into a corner, and with the possible exception of the final scene, never goes to an interesting place with the material. The flick lives and dies with its concept, but despite some promise, Manley and Thorne’s decent work, and an early sense of liveliness, it just doesn’t add up to a whole hell of a lot. It feels like a missed opportunity, considering the satirical edge that could have been pursued. Alas, it was not to be, and we end up with something rather forgettable, instead.

Now available, Infamous goes off the rails just when it starts getting interesting. If you happen to be really fascinated by the premise, you may get a bit more out of this than I did, or if you really do love Bella Thorne. However, the idea and the execution don’t match up. As clever as it might be, in its infancy, it just winds up being a bit of genre mediocrity, by the end. That’s truly the film’s biggest sin.

Infamous is available to watch now.

(Photos courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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