Film Review: Fix

An energetic, handheld-camera account of a day spent trying to deposit someone in rehab.

While Fix is assembled from a buffet of familiar film devices, the end result reworks these elements into a surprisingly fresh concoction. Combining the handheld-camera technique familiar in horror films like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project, the detours of a road-trip movie, and the kind of crazy mission prevalent in drug-themed movies like Trainspotting and Go, the movie becomes something young indie-film enthusiasts can stand behind, or at least rent.

Over the course of one day, couple Bella (Olivia Wilde) and Milo (Tao Ruspoli) must pick up Milo’s brother Leo (Shawn Andrews) from jail and deposit him in rehab. Their mission progresses from securing shoes, food and transportation to the more weighty realization that he will need $5,000 to check into the facility and avoid a mandatory jail sentence. Despite this rather dire predicament, Leo remains calm. His spontaneous personality is addictive, and the mood soon extends to Bella and Milo. Even as they sell stolen cars, orchestrate drug deals, and have run-ins in the police, they find time to go to the beach. The tone here remains relatively even, and there’s no need to shift to the edge of your seat.

Some of the movie’s attempts at social commentary are heavy-handed. A soliloquy about the futility of drug-taking, needle and spoon in hand, complete with “It’s not like it is in the movies,” comes across as false, as does the obvious political content in a monologue from a former soldier paralyzed after becoming a “mercenary” for government contractors.

More subtle and rewarding, however, is the way the movie breaks with convention regarding its handheld, documentary style. Everyone who sees the camera reacts to it—“What’s up with the camera? Reality TV show?”—and its presence must be explained. The irony is that most reality-show participants feign invisibility of the camera, while Fix acknowledges its disruptive presence, particularly in a volatile, non-law-abiding world.

Ruspoli, who wrote, directed, shot and acts in the movie, is rarely seen, but his use of the camera (and sneaky refusal to shut it off when ordered) gives him a personality of his own. While the camera is steady, the cinematography is hyper-real. Ruspoli favors wide-angle lenses, sometimes to the level of distortion, and saturated colors, as well as slow-motion and sped-up scenery.

The acting, however, grounds the over-stylized visuals. Andrews and Wilde are compelling both for what they give to the camera as well as how they convey their unseen interior lives, and Megalyn Echikunwoke excels in a supporting role as an artist who helps orchestrate their drug deal. With its Graduate-inspired final scene, Fix aims to be a cultural touchstone it can’t quite achieve, but at least it has the nerve to try.