Joshua Reviews Jaret Belliveau And Matthew Bauckman’s Elliot [Slamdance Review]

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When one thinks of truly great and legendary action cinema icons, names like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger instantaneously pop into one’s mind. However, for Elliot “White Lightning” Scott, the road to becoming synonymous with those names has been a tough one to tread.

The focus of a new documentary playing at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival entitled Elliot, Scott is attempting to become not only the next great action hero, but the first for his native land of Canada. A low budget, B-movie director/actor/producer/everything, we meet Scott as he sets up to produce a new picture, brilliantly titled Blood Fight. Over the next 90 minutes, however, we become privy to both this man’s drive to become Canada’s answer to Jackie Chan, and also the complete psychological devolution of a man building an entire life on top of a foundation of lies, a foundation that never seems to end.

From the outset, the film ostensibly feels like a loving look at a somewhat delusional B-movie filmmaker that has visions of grandeur that will likely never be met in his or her life. However, that would give this shockingly entrancing documentary none of the real credit that it rightly deserves.

While the 90 minute runtime does ultimately overstay its welcome (or at least the pacing does this film little to no favors), what we as a viewing audience unwrap here is a film that is both remarkably entertaining and delightfully dense. Superficially, the film plays as a rather enjoyable look at a filmmaker who believes with all of his soul that every frame of his films are worth more than their respective weight in celluloid. As a character type, we’ve seen Elliot Scott-like characters, men and women driven by passion but blinded to what they have been driven to make, throughout cinema. However, what makes this documentary the real piece of cinematic gold is what one discovers as the aforementioned layers get unraveled.

Culminating in one of the more dark and shocking turns in recent memory, Elliot as a documentary, directed by the team of Jaret Belliveau and Matthew Bauckman (who also wrote, edited and produced the picture thanks to a well received Kickstarter campaign), is an odd cookie to really crack. Blending real comedy with some deeply troubling drama, the film’s mixture of tones may turn away a viewer or two, but for those interested in seeing through all the superficial posturing, one discovers that this is a truly evocative look at how we as a people often times lie to others, but only do so because we can’t tell ourselves the truth.

The main focus of the film is the story of the production of Scott’s newest film, but the most enlightening narrative thread involves the relationship between he and his main squeeze, Linda, as they try to maneuver their way through a relationship that appears to be on the brink. Scott is a womanizing escort-service frequenter with a penchant for buying movies instead of looking for his girlfriend’s dream wedding ring, and Linda is hell bent on either changing that or ending this relationship. The most rewarding thematic yarn being woven throughout the film, this relationship is a troubling one and one that twists this film out of its comedy roots, morphing it into what is one of the more intriguing looks at human nature in quite some time.

Overall, while 2014 will no doubt be chock full of great documentaries, a great one has just hit our doorsteps. Elliot is a must-see film for action film aficionados, and also an interesting meditation on the lies we humans live off of and how those very lies can affect not just ourselves, but every living soul we know. A must see film, Elliot truly is.