The film is interesting…to a point. The main problem is that the premise, although intriguing, can’t quite sustain an hour and a half-long movie. I realize it’s a documentary and so there’s no “story” per se, but a good filmmaker should be able to mold his/her footage in to something with some kind of arc and pacing. Here, it’s pretty much the same thing the entire time: Doug is confused/frustrated…cut to a doctor spouting medical jargon…Doug remembers his first time seeing snow, the ocean, etc.…and repeat. There’s never any emotional build or climax, and the film gets dully repetitive after a while.
There’s been some controversy recently as to whether Doug Bruce is telling the truth about his condition or if the whole thing is a hoax. His story does seem a bit too well documented; aside from conveniently having a director for a friend, just about everyone in the movie is young, attractive and extremely well-spoken. Bruce himself is able to articulate his feelings quite easily for someone in his predicament. Of course all that is just speculation on my part and it doesn’t really matter anyways. Fake or not, UNKNOWN WHITE MALE is still a mediocre film, although it may have made a better short than a full length documentary.
Q&A with Director and Producer (5:47): The filmmakers directly address the controversy and whether or not the movie is fake. Their answer is Not Fake, and their defense seems genuine. (Although, I guess you can’t really expect them to admit it.) Still, I don’t have any reason to not believe them, so I’ll take the movie for what it is.
Where Is He Now? (7:46): Bruce addresses some of the questions and criticisms about the film and explains why he made the movie in the first place. If I had amnesia, making a movie would be the last thing on my mind.
Making of UNKNOWN WHITE MALE (10:53): The director speaks about how he tried to keep the movie visually interesting so it’s not just a bunch of talking heads. A considerate idea, but the story could’ve used some work first.
Interview with Friends (5:54): Bruce’s friends discuss what he was like before and after the “incident.” Most of this is covered already (at length) in the movie.
The Experts: Extended Interviews (9:39): More from the doctors and philosophers who discuss what they make of Bruce’s condition and how it might have happened. Once again, there’s enough of this in the movie already.
Original Sand Dunes Sequence (4:50): A slightly extended version of Bruce’s abstract walk in the sand. It doesn’t particularly add much, but the scene is set against the setting sun and the footage looks amazing.
And don’t forget…Trailers.
Extra Tidbit: In case you’re easily swayed by celebrity opinion, both Roger Ebert and Michel Gondry met Bruce; Ebert said he’s convinced his story is true, while Gondry declared shenanigans.