SHADOWS OF LIBERTY (Jean-Philippe Tremblay). 93 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (February 15). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Jean-Philippe Tremblay's conspiratorial doc wants to warn us about the dangers of corporate media and how the news-gathering process is inevitably compromised when five or six companies own all the media organs.
But he fails to build a coherent thesis, relying instead on innuendo and accusations - and creepy music - to score imaginary points. You know, just like Fox News does.
I see the appeal of these dramatic devices in documentary storytelling; they're very handy if you don't trust your viewers to understand the importance of complex material. But there's nothing particularly complex about Shadows Of Liberty's subject. In fact, the premise is so simple that it can be stated in a couple of sentences (say, the opening paragraph of a movie review).
Tremblay's strategy is to repeat the same suggestions over and over with increasing shrillness so his audience leaves the theatre convinced that the problem is real even though the movie presents no evidence that actually validates its argument, just endless insinuation.
The worst thing about all this? I actually do believe mass media is in danger of being neutered by corporate ownership. But I can't endorse a poorly constructed documentary solely because we're on the same side.