27 September 2010

Teenage Paparazzo (2010)

Adrian Grenier is best known as Vince, the lead character in Entourage and he knows something about the paparazzi. Teenage Paparazzo is Grenier's story about trying to understand the paparazzi through the eyes of one of them, who happens to be just 14 years old.

I have one word to describe this film: engrossing. I could not look away. It had all the best parts of a documentary (great hook, intriguing subject, good pacing) plus celebrities. Grenier manages to get the best of both worlds -- as an actor, he has easy access to other actors and celebrities -- he even uses Paris Hilton (who deosn't seem to mind) to show off how fast rumors are spun from the photos that are submitted to the tabloids. On the other hand, he buys a camera and spends some time running with the paparazzi, stalking other celebrities.

In addition to looking at the heart of the issue (who is buying the photos? who is consuming them? what's with our obsession?) through discussions with psychologists, historians and other experts, Grenier manages to portray paparazzi not as bottom-feeders but as people doing a job.

But this is not a movie about Grenier (something he actually seems to figure out along the way); it's about a boy, Austin Visschedyk, who is so invested in getting the shot that will pay off -- pushing, cursing, and always clicking -- it's easy to forget that he's just a kid. When his story breaks, he is thrust into the other side of the camera as a celebrity.

I have to wonder what path Visshedyk will ultimately follow, having had both a taste of celebrity and also of the adrenalin-fueled pace of the celebrity-stalker. I kinda hope he grows up to be an accountant but I suspect Hollywood has a pretty firm hold.