Jezebel premiered at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, and it serves as the feature directorial debut of Numa Perrier. This is a low-budget film that was partially funded through GoFundMe. While this film is clearly a personal story for the director, it sometimes lacks the narrative drive to remain consistently engaging.
This movie takes place in the 90’s and follows Tiffany who, with the help of her sister, gets a job as a cam girl to make ends meet after the death of their mother. This is a semi-autobiographical film that Perrier both wrote and directed. It’s an interesting concept due to the nature of sex work and how it operated in the 90’s.
Overall, the writing is fairly decent. It has some nuances that heighten the realism of each scene, but there are also moments that feel a bit contrived. The dialogue isn’t super well-written, and it only gives a superficial understanding to its characters. However, through her direction of the actors, Perrier is able to communicate her intent and characterization better.
The best aspect of this film comes from the lead performance. Tiffany Tenille makes her feature film debut in this movie. She is able to give a tangible spirit to her character as we join her on her journey into the industry. It’s interesting to watch her try and become accustomed to her job. Through every interaction in her line of work, we learn more about her and see her grow as a character. It’s not perfect, but Tenille shows a lot of promise through her performance in this movie.
The movie also introduces a side plot about a frequent customer with whom she grows an attachment. It’s a bizarrely sweet relationship in a world that is often defined by the sexual shamelessness of its clientele. However, this is a story that I would have liked to see more of in the movie, but with a limited budget and condensed runtime, I can understand why it had to be short.
On a technical level, it’s a fairly impressive indie film. The cinematography is subtle when it needs to be, but it also knows when to be erratic and vivacious. It really helps show the mental state of working in this industry and adds further depth to the struggles of its protagonist. There are some really effective moments that are created due to the cinematography, editing, and execution.
Unfortunately, this movie can spend a lot of its time meandering on plot points that don’t really warrant the attention. It seems that the movie bites off a lot more than it can chew. The movie tackles a lot of heavy subjects that just aren’t addressed in an efficient manner, and it really bogs down an interesting premise. It’s a rather short film that feels somewhat extended by some of its narrative shortcomings.
Jezebel is an interesting look into the life of a cam girl, and it’s a personal story, but it isn’t as engaging as one would hope. It shows a lot of promise for its director and its star, and it is an admirable feat of indie filmmaking.
Jezebel is currently streaming on Netflix.
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