Tuesday, March 21, 2006

UNKNOWN WHITE MALE in Austin Friday!

One of the '05 audience faves, UNKNOWN WHITE MALE makes its way to the Regal Arbor Theater this Friday. The film tells the story of a man who wakes up on the subway in Coney Island with no memory of who he is. The kicker is that it's a documentary, beautifully shot by the amnesiac's friend. Here's the official synopsis from the website and below that a link to the trailer.

Sometime between 8pm on July 1st and 7am on July 3rd, 2003, Doug Bruce lost himself. That morning, riding alone on a New York subway headed towards Coney Island, he could not remember his name, where he worked, who his friends were, how much money he had in his bank account. He was without his identity.

UNKNOWN WHITE MALE is the true story of how Bruce, a successful former stockbroker, struggles to learn who he was and who he will become. The documentary, produced, directed and edited by Bruce’s longtime friend, Rupert Murray, chronicles this profound journey.

Two MRIs, two CAT scans, 26 blood tests and an army of psychiatrists cannot properly diagnose what turns out to be the rarest and most startling form of memory loss: retrograde amnesia. Was Bruce the victim of a robbery resulting in a slight head injury or the effects of a small cyst on his pituitary gland? Or perhaps is Bruce subconsciously reacting to the death of his mother a few years before? It is a testament to Murray’s smooth but honest narrative that the film asks all the right questions even if many of the answers remain elusive.

Murray empathetically walks us through Bruce’s quest. He assembles dozens of childhood photos, decades of home videos, extensive interviews with family members, friends, ex-girlfriends, psychiatrists, neurologists, and philosophers—and the touching participation of Bruce himself.

We watch how he reconstructs a life for himself by retaining what he admires about his former self while casting off what—and whom—he dislikes. It is at once a nightmare and a dream come true: a chance at rebirth.

We watch Bruce, now 35, play catch up with popular culture and current events, experience the serenity of a snowfall and the bombast of fireworks. And we watch him reconstruct relationships with family members he does not recognize and fall in love with a woman who knows only the post-accident version of her lover. Paraphrasing John Locke, one of the film’s interviewees observes that Bruce is certainly the same man but questionably the same person.

Fictional narrative film has long been fascinated by stories of memory loss -- from Hitchcock's SPELLBOUND through to more recent releases such as MEMENTO, MULHOLLAND DRIVE and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. Here is a story almost too real for fiction, told with a striking visual style and tremendous heart.

Click here for the trailer

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