Bodies Bodies Bodies: Twitter Movie, by David Bax
Halina Reijn’s Bodies Bodies Bodies is about a group of twentysomethings, most of whom come from very wealthy families, waiting out a hurricane together at the mansion owned by the one of their group with the richest parents. That might make it sound like it’s a quarantine movie, a take on our collective recent past. But, it turns out, Reijn and screenwriters Sarah DeLappe and Kristen Roupenian have easier and more obvious targets in mind for their satire.
There are hints of where it’s all going from the movie’s color palette, luminance and texture. It’s bright but it’s blurry and wet, shimmery and woozy like a late night scroll through TikTok or a YouTube video uploaded in the wee hours (at times recalling Jane Schoenbrun‘s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, a comparison that does Bodies Bodies Bodies no favors).
Soon, the clues about the object of the film’s scorn begin piling up in the form of the characters’ lexicon. “Toxic,” “ableist,” “gaslighting”; as the members of the party start to get mysteriously killed off and tensions begin to rise, the young folks increasingly hurl these learned, packaged diagnoses at one another.
So we’re here, I guess, to make fun of the Twitter/Tumblr end of the Internet and its performative wokeness. But these topics have already been through multiple cycles of disdain and reclamation. It was fresher and had more sting when a fashionable white college student showed up in an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt in Todd Solondz‘ Wiener-Dog but that was six years ago, eons in online time. Before the deaths start piling up, the crew kick off their hurricane party by dancing to Azealia Banks’ “212,” a song that’s more than a decade old. Given the characters’ ages, it makes sense that they’d be nostalgic for something from their early high school years but it feels like a sign that the whole movie is behind the times.
Because what, exactly, are we supposed to be laughing at? The fact that these characters are almost all the benefactors of immense privilege makes it easy to make fun of them. But their tendency toward things like social justice and respect for the differences of others makes them, at the very least, aware of their privilege. I assume, then, we’re meant to be mocking their ability to take all of this awareness and its attendant vocabulary and still use it to make everything about themselves.
There’s nothing wrong with ridiculing such behavior except that Bodies Bodies Bodies can’t ever seem to get below the surface of its targets. It becomes repetitious and eventually feels like it’s just listing off concepts like “gender dysphoria” for a giggle. It’s like one of those Date Movie type spoofs where you’re just supposed to laugh because you recognize the reference.