On_line (2002) from Tuna

Not long ago, in reviewing a film I have mercifully forgotten the name of, I opined that it was not possible to make a film about cybersex interesting. The problem with every example I have seen is that you end up with little actual action, and a whole lot of keyboarding and narrative. On_Line proved me wrong.

The story revolves around people who spend their lives in cyberspace. Some do it for a living, such as room mates Harold Perrineau Jr. and Josh Hamilton, who operate a version of interactive adult chat, much like the real life I-Friends, and their regular paid performers/ Others do it because they are alienated or isolated from normal society.

The story switches among several characters, Hamilton is still getting over being jilted, but has the hots for Vanessa Ferlito, one of their performers, and also watches Liz Owens on the "angel cam," obviously patterned after Jenny of Jennicam fame. Perrineau is a real player, and is dating Isabel Gillies, who hangs around a suicide chat room, as a counselor, but with serious depression problems herself. We also have a young gay man in Middle America who is desperate for a real man in his life. His weekly cyber-experiences serve only to make him feel more isolated and alienated from society.

So how did they beat the problem of making a cyber-sex film interesting? First of all, they made very artistic use of split screens, simulating the medium they were portraying. Second, they made the interactions live video and audio feed, but most important, they took the characters away from their computers and into the real world.

I will stop there, as I am giving this film a thumb up. I will even forgive the film for what is an overly happy ending.


Vaznesa Ferlito shows her breasts during a cyber-sex scene.

This is low budget filmmaking, and not a formula film, but has an element of real creativity -- the very thing that attracts me to indie films. It is not perfect, but it is entertaining, interesting, factually grounded in technology and cyber personalities, and presents good character development.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Roger Ebert 2/4.

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed $165,000. It was in theaters for 20 weeks, in an average of 2.25 theaters at a time. That works out to about 22 people in the theater each time it was shown.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. Those who enjoy indies and something different will enjoy this one..

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