The little bugs that rise, and rise, and ...
An electrifying “huis clos” of madness between three characters by the unfortunately rare author of The Exorcist and To Live and Die in LA.
At seventy years of age, William Friedkin usually spends his time directing operas on the most prestigious stages of the world. But between a Samson and Delilah in Israel and an Aria in Italy, the man who directed The Exorcist and French Connection takes a few months vacation from the lyric arts and dedicates time to cinema. More precisely, he dedicates his time to Bug, a project shot rapidly (three weeks), in almost a single film set, haunted by three actors out of a cast of five. Budget: 3 million dollars. A trifle by Hollywood standards. Logistically speaking a modest film, Bug is in fact a suffocating story that takes place in camera in a seedy motel room on the edge of an American desert. And what exactly happens in this miserable place? Agnes, a tired, faded waitress (played by a bloated, overweight, frightening Ashley Judd) receives the visit of an apparently paranoiac bum, Michael (Michael Shannon), just before the arrival of her ex-boyfriend, Jerry (played by crooner Harry Connick Jr.) a brute always ready to remind Agnes of the memory of the son she lost. The tension rises between the three, even more so because the woman plays along with a new lover who is convinced that ugly little bugs proliferate under his skin as a result of military experiments ….Raving mad? Perhaps not, although the script does not explicitly take position on the subject, favouring doubt rather than certainty.
Inspired by a play, Bug could have been a mere stylistic composition, static and wordy. But even though it rarely spreads beyond the 20 squared metres of the main setting and unfolds essentially through its dialogues, this film bounces back and forth endlessly, insidious and violent, extremist in what it shows and what it says. Wired on to 100.000 volts, threatening to explode into the wildest insanity at any minute, this film proves that, even in his seventies, the mischievous film-director hasn’t settled down and still has the will and guts to disturb his audience and to explore the darkest corners of the human soul. An approach with no compromises. An Enfant terrible forever !