Creative Control: Love’s labor lost

Cross Whit Stillman and Wes Anderson with Spike Jonze’s Her (2013) and you may have something of an idea about Creative Control, a droll and dry science-fiction satire that marks the feature directorial debut of leading man Benjamin Dickinson, who also wrote the screenplay with Micah Bloomberg.

The story takes place in a near future where people are technically proficient and obsessed with self-image, yet mostly unable to communicate or feel intimacy with each other. James (Dickinson) is an advertising executive so enamored of coworker Sophie (Alexia Rasmussen) that he constructs a computer avatar of her to (ahem) keep him happy.

Sophie becomes aware of James’ hi-tech affections, which is problematic because James has a live-in girlfriend, Juliette (Nora Zehetner), and Sophie is dating James’ friend Wim (Dan Gill) – who, incidentally, confides to James that he’s cheating on her.

This tangled web of relationships might arouse more interest were the characters not such soulless ciphers. They talk a lot (usually about themselves), they smoke a lot (James’ big ad account is for a smokable anti-anxiety medication that he promptly becomes hooked on), and they’re generally miserable and unsatisfied (usually because of themselves).

They’re sometimes amusing but more often irritating – which may well be Dickinson’s point about where people are headed.

Nevertheless, there are enough inspired and imaginative moments to prove an encouraging debut for him. Drazen Bosnjak provides a fine score, and Adam Newport- Berra’s cinematography – mostly in black-and-white with sudden bursts of color – is spectacular, especially for a film that reportedly cost only $1 million. Creative Control is a surefire contender for cult status, and perhaps the best is yet to come from Dickinson. !

Creative Control opens Friday

MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2016, Mark Burger.