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Fear of Fiction2000

  • 2.4
Sigrid Anderssen (Melissa Leo) is a hot young novelist who answers an ad in the newspaper by Red (True Blood's Sam Trammell), a man who is driving cross-country with his identical twin brother. The three embark on a surreal journey, providing a new outlook on life for Sigrid and more writing material than she ever bargained for.

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i was going to bail at the start_ the reading at the beginning just seemed lame_ but i liked Sigrid so i stuck w it_& i like red & tom and the whole twin mix_so it just got weirder as it went & yeah it's definitely weird but totally cool & i love the story and and all of the characters & history past & present & what road am i on_so it's a fun trip great ride

Everyone seems to love a good road movie, so it's worth thinking through what's happening when they don't work. "Fear of Fiction" shows that the genre usually needs to tell coherent character and relationship stories with some at least internally logical narrative progression--stories whose progress can parallel that of the geographic journey, which also needs to have its own meaning, whether narrative or emotional.

On this external level, the occasional bit piece works here, and the rush of scenes provide occasional twinges of a sense of freedom. But the trip essentially lacks the coherence to offer a real mood of either eccentric abandon or compelling purpose; it's one disjointed scene after another in which Sigrid and Red, or Tom and his driver of the moment, talk about a huge number of things. The tone varies as much as the topics, and no momentum develops.

Turning to an internal focus makes matters worse, as the characters are implausible and half-drawn, never forming deep or interesting connections. Sigrid worries incessantly about her writing, but doesn't seem to actually care about it (she would have to be shown respecting her craft and benefiting from her practice at least some of the time for that). With Red, her companion, she switches from sultry to sullen and back for no discernible reason.

"I don't know what you think of me," Red protests at one point. "What difference does it make?" she answers. "I want to get lost." If only--instead she seems stuck in a maze of anxiety and cynicism at once overly determined by what we learn about her family and yet never really jelling into defining moments of sharp, spontaneous feeling that would make it poignant. Really, her pain is described and acted out on its edges, but only rarely vivid and present. The brothers, Red and Tom, meanwhile, are even less defined.

“Fear of Fiction” is incredibly talkative, arguably even ambitious in its way, but its energy doesn’t excuse it from the requirement that it make sense, at least in terms of its own narrative world, however surreal. There are hints of interesting ideas in this heady blend of past and present, fantasy and realism that from time to time ponders everything from the connections between twins to music to theology. But none of these hints are shaped into coherent form. Unfortunately, the frenetic motion in this film finally resembles a tornado more than a road trip.