I first saw this movie months ago, though I had missed the first 30 or so minutes. I just got around to seeing it again, this time the entire thing. And now I feel I can write a full review for it.
Most would see Blake Gardner (Jeremy Sisto) as insane; after all, he goes around talking to his ‘audience' as if he's the star of his very own movie, and titles other people with generic character names as he meets them. For instance, upon seeing a man in a trench coat with a guitar standing at a street corner, he dubs him The Suspicious Character (Peter Stormare) and basically stalks him to find out what's going on with him. He ‘hires' a Sidekick (Brian J. White), and labels his newly given therapist as his Love Interest (Dina Meyer), telling her that she must eventually get over her Doomed Fiancé (Carlos Jacott) in order to be with him. But the more that he insists that he has an audience watching his every move, the more he talks to this apparent audience, the more he follows The Suspicious Character and deems him a villain, the more he looks insane.
I have to say, this movie is brilliant. It does get cheesy at times, and some of the acting (especially toward the end) is questionable, but the story and the overall product given is great and fun. To start with the camera work, because that's the big thing with this film, I have to say that even though the main character looks directly into the camera for the majority of the movie, it works. Every angle of the camera has its purpose. Blake goes into details of why his audience is in a certain place at a certain time (different emotional effects, to avoid boredom, etc.), which, in effect, tells anybody interested in film-making how to use a camera and even setting for different effects.
But the movie would have fallen apart if it weren't for Jeremy Sisto. This whole movie rides on his charisma and believability as the Movie Hero, Blake. His pure, unwavering devotion to the fact that he has an audience that nobody else can see, along with his brilliant love of cinema and everything it does, makes him a great character, even though the character's biggest flaw (in the film) is that he has nothing going for him and he's not the best leading man whatsoever. But Sisto rolls with it all, making what could have been horribly cheesy into great comedy and real fun.
But he's not the only actor that pulls through. Brian White as Antoine the Sidekick has some great charisma, as well, and he and Sisto pull off some really good chemistry. Dina Meyer (almost indistinguishable from any other recent role) also has some pretty good chemistry with Sisto, knowing when to pull back in emotion and when to go all out. Peter Stormare is a bit over-the-top, and his character adds more of a fantasy aspect to the film, but it works for what it is.
But what I love about the film the most is what I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago, which is its self-consciousness toward film. If a character or scene is being cliché, Blake won't hesitate to point it out and try to remedy the situation so that his audience won't be bored or annoyed. If a certain character is having a specified ‘moment' that occurs in every movie for that type of character, he will make a brief statement to his audience (the camera) before letting it continue. And then, like I said, all the work with the camera as the audience taking different angles, etc., was a brilliant part of the story.
The one part that bugged me a little bit was the inclusion, toward the end, of an actual theater setting for potential audiences. It was slightly cheesy and took me out of the moment. But otherwise, the movie was great. There's even a great message to go along with it (make the best of your life and do good). I really recommend this film, especially to people who are interested in film-making and/or how films are made in general, because there are huge nods to true fans of cinema.