Lead by a cast of unknown actors and musicians, the psychological thriller Poser is one of the most fleshed-out and complete films of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
By Sean Blanford
Sometimes the best things come from completely unexpected places. With movies, it could be discovering a director or actor for the first time, or going in completely blind about the screenplay, what it’s about, only going off of the recommendation of a trusted source. This year’s Tribeca Film Festival is full of great under-the-radar movies, and the Noah Dixon/Ori Segev co-directed drama Poser is potentially right at the top of that list. Combining real elements of an underground music scene itching to be discovered with a breakout performance from a lead in only her second feature film, Poser is one of the most chilling, engaging, and complete films from this year’s festival.
Lennon Gates (Sylvie Mix) is a restaurant worker by day who is also an aspiring musician and podcast host, bringing her recording equipment to underground musical performances and late-night hangouts on the Columbus, Ohio music scene. She records in digital but transfers it to analog because, in her words, “analog just sounds better” and is her way to “embrace the unconventional.” She desires to be something more than she currently is, looking for an avenue to come out of her shell and be more open to trying new things. Enter the band Damn the Witch Siren and lead singer Bobbi Kitten, someone who Lennon becomes inspired and infatuated with, blurring the lines between friendship and protege that become more complicated as Lennon’s true motivations of her podcast and recordings come to light.
The best parts of the film come from its style of filmmaking and choices made to focus on the music and Lennon as a central character, both feeling raw and polished at the same time. You would never know that the majority of the cast had little to no film experience, and elements of the film can be seen as a hybrid unconventional documentary and feature, which by the third act focuses more on the narrative side, but not forcefully so. The film runs smoothly, and at a brisk 87-minute runtime, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The performances of Sylvie Mix and Bobbi Kitten evolve throughout the film, with one particular breathtaking scene involving a performance art experiment that has a different connotation when we see it again later in the film.
At the end of it all, this is a film about discovery. For Lennon, it is going from the outside looking into a world she wants to be a part of and do whatever it takes to stay there. For the audience, it is a discovery of new actors and musicians, up-and-coming filmmakers, and embracing great independent cinema.
Grade: 4.25/5 (A-)
Poser is directed by Noah Dixon and Ori Segev, and is written by Noah Dixon. It was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival online on June 14th, 2021. Runtime: 87 minutes
Production Notes: A Loose Films Production
Image courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival