Clinging to the Nearest Passerby: She’s Lost Control

03/18/2015 6:00 AM |
Image courtesy of Monument Releasing

She’s Lost Control
Directed by Anja Marquardt
Opens March 20 at the IFP Made in NY Media Center

A lot of city life is lived by proxy. Self-designated professionals write online dating profiles for clients. The cooking, tax-filing, cleaning, and gift-buying are done largely by other people; doulas are engaged to speak for mothers in delivery rooms; hospice workers manage at the other end. Only death itself, so far, cannot be outsourced. And if life alone is hard, life with other people is particularly arduous. When intimacy with those others seems impossible, a sex surrogate may be brought in. Thus Ronah (Brooke Bloom), a scrubbed brunette grad student, businesslike, a woman whose sessions with clients (referred to her by a psychiatrist) begin with paperwork and a quick-response test for STDs.

Early reviewers have stuck She’s Lost Control, Anja Marquardt’s first feature, in the middle of a spectrum, between The Sessions and The Girlfriend Experience—this one’s neither treacly nor titillating, they say. It’s certainly quite cold. Moving through a pale and featureless New York—some orange subway seats, toward the end, are a relief—Ronah avoids what she has by way of family, lives alone in a blank apartment, is unenthused by her thesis (amen, Ronah), extracts and stores her eggs. Like her distant cousin in A Teacher, she runs a lot, and takes a lot of baths. When recalcitrant redhead Johnny (Marc Menchaca), a nurse who puts people under for a living, doesn’t seem to be responding to therapy, Ronah develops an actual interest. “I want to crack it,” she says, and we know she will. There’s that prophesying title after all.

Bloom’s Ronah speaks in therapeutic jargon with her clients and snaps at everyone else; we hardly need her bathroom pipes to burst (they do) to sense the coming tidal wave. In a film as scrubbed of identifying marks as its heroine, the joints of plot look even more nakedly obvious—it’s as though the hanging gun were the only thing on stage. “I’m completely present,” Ronah tells the men, but it’s impossible to believe her, and almost impossible to believe the choreographed denouement. The movie asks us to concede that our interior bulkheads fail, that city stories in which nothing happens can be fascinating. But the burden of proof will have to be borne by someone else.