by Ryan J Gimarc
Creative Control is the cinematic equivalent of your cool best friend who knows just how cool they actually are. From a snappy title that just falls off your tongue, to the Helvetica-like typeface of the opening and closing credits, Benjamin Dickinson’s tribute to keeping your s--t together in the incredibly-near future feels familiar and comfortable, simply because of how comfortably put together it all is.
Dickinson, in addition to directing and co-writing with Micah Bloomberg, stars as David, a marketing/advertising executive who is finally hitting his stride professionally. Tasked with leading the marketing for Augmenta, a type of virtual reality which I’m sure felt much further in the future when Creative Control’s production began, David has a tough time keeping up with the many pieces of his life. And while his specialty pair of Augmenta glasses are supposed to make life more convenient, David actually starts to use them for...more personal entertainment. The line between his reality and that of the world around him begins to blur, as his relationships with his girlfriend Juliette (Nora Zehetner), best friend Wim (Dan Gill), and Wim’s girlfriend Sophie (Alexia Rasmussen) all start to mesh in unhealthy ways.
As with any film dealing with a not-so-distant future, Creative Control has an array of potential material to work with, notably how individuals choose to use wearable technology, and whether this type of tech (which is more and more prominent in real life every day) succeeds in simplifying everyday tasks. The film picks its spots, opting to lean into these questions and avoid even addressing many more potential avenues. When it does overreach (in one particular sequence almost two-thirds of the way through the movie, David becomes overwhelmed using the many features of the Augmenta interface), the point the film is trying to make is laid a bit more bare, rather than the more natural flow of the rest of the movie.
It’s hard to tell exactly the reasoning behind Creative Control being shown in black-and-white, but the results are quite stunning. Alternately fast and slow, the film weaves through David’s routine with a technical adeptness that elevates Dickinson and Bloomberg’s script at times. The director is able to contrast the maze of Manhattan life with the relatively slower attitudes found both outside (upstate New York) the city and within (havens such as Juliette’s yoga studio). In particular, a sequence at a party which David and Wim attend could be, in lesser hands, difficult to handle; flashing strobe lights and various sound controls have the potential to run amuck. Yet Dickinson handles the scene in a way which both accentuates the chaos while still allowing the important plot point to land with impeccable coherence.
Creative Control finds a rhythm and sticks to its strengths. Although the most interesting aspect of a film like this would expectedly be about technology itself, Dickinson spends more time exploring instead how our lives are affected by these advances which are not too far down the road. It’s funny and charming and scary all at once.
Catch Creative Control in the UICA Movie Theater from April 8—21, complete list of showtimes at uica.org/creative-control.
Interested in participating in UICA's movie reviews? Contact Nick Hartman at firstname.lastname@example.org.