Model Behaviour, 2013.
Directed by Nathan Hill.
Starring Nathan Hill, Samira Amira, Stacey McMahon and Michael Fenemore.
A detective hunts a serial killer who resides within the fashion and modelling industry.
Model Behaviour is a dark, intense thriller following detective Jordan Rhodes (an engaging performance from Nathan Hill, who also wrote and directed), drawn in to a serial killer investigation that threatens both his personal and professional life. The film explores the dark underbelly of the fashion industry in Australia, portrayed as a world so bleak and morally bankrupt that any one of many outwardly beautiful models could be responsible for the trail of bodies mounting up as part of Rhodes’ homicide investigation.
The film is engrossing from the off and Hill does a fine job of assembling a narrative incorporating interwoven flashbacks that advance the plot in a classic film noir-esque fashion. Taking influence from films such as Memento and Basic Instinct, the atmosphere hangs heavy in every scene as grisly murders and unhinged personalities combine to send Rhodes in to a downward spiral of confusion and paranoia.
The star of the show is undoubtedly Stacey McMahon as prime suspect Alexis. Her effortless femme fatale persona steals scene after scene and adds a menacing charisma that helps elevate the film above the standard genre fare during its strongest moments. McMahon manages to perfectly convey the part without reverting to cliché and makes her character genuinely unpredictable. There are also compelling performances from many of the supporting cast, particularly Rhodes’ colleagues in the police force, some of whom turn the air blue with a ferocity that would make the cast of The Wire blush.
Hill is clearly a filmmaker of talent but has included a couple of set piece action sequences that work less well than the psychologically driven interrogation scenes. The action within the film is not particularly well realised and detracts somewhat from the overall quality, as there is enough drama to maintain intensity throughout without them. The action sequences come across as superfluous attempts to inject adrenaline in to a film that already engages through its plot, narrative and dialogue alone. For a relatively short film that looks to cover a lot of ground, the inclusion of scenes that look to flesh out the central character’s home life also comes across as somewhat unnecessary and a distraction from the main story.
Model Behaviour demonstrates that there is a wealth of entertainment to be had from independent cinema that concentrates on the tried and tested staples of solid narrative and engaging dialogue delivered by characters of genuine interest. The film’s 63 minute run time flies by and although the final act and resolution may not be satisfying to all tastes and the film’s relatively low budget and production values lend the film an uneven quality at times, this is a solid thriller sure to find an audience amongst fans of the genre.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★