Review: Bodies Bodies Bodies Gets Ruthless, Funny and Sometimes Bloody About Youth and Social Media Culture.

Quite frequently, I’ve knocked films that have supposedly smart people doing ridiculously dumb things in a movie just to keep the plot moving or just in the name of comedy (something I never actually find the least bit funny, perhaps because it resembles real life a little too closely). But the latest release from A24 offers something we don’t often get, which is a smart movie about mostly dumb characters, Bodies Bodies Bodies. The film revolves around a group of rich 20-somethings who gather at the home of David’s (Peter Davidson) parents for a weekend of drinking, drugs, sex and party games, including the one that gives the movie its title. Even leading up to the game, it’s clear this group loves and hates one another enough to call each other out on their shit, all the while taking selfies and making videos of themselves in full BFF debauchery—your classic fake-friend behavior.

The women seem to have the strongest bonds, with Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) arriving late to the party with her new girlfriend, Bee (Maria Bakalova). Some of the others give them grief for arriving late, especially Sophie’s former girlfriend Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), whom Sophie may have had recent intimate contact with leading up to this party. Also on hand are Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), who happens to be dating David, and the particularly spacey Alice (Shiva Baby’s Rachel Sennott), who has brought a date as well, in the form of an older guy named Greg (Lee Pace), who is the only real unknown in this multi-person equation, making him the least trustworthy for no particular reason other than he likes hanging out with 20-somethings.

After we meet everyone and more or less understand their role in the group, the game begins. Bodies Bodies Bodies is a type of whodunit mystery exercise that involves someone being secretly assigned as murderer, that person trying to pretend murder everyone, and the others attempting to figure out who the killer is. But when the lights go out in a wicked, hurricane-like storm outside, one of the their numbers turns up actually dead with their throat slit, and the others immediately start pointing fingers. At some point, it’s determined that everyone either had motive or opportunity, and things get heated as people use pretzel logic, stereotypes and personal beefs as reasons for blaming one another. And before long, words and history turn into physical violence—giving the film’s title its double meaning.

Helmed by Netherlands-based actress-turned-director Halina Reijn (2019’s Instinct; she also had roles in Black Book and Valkyrie), Bodies Bodies Bodies has a snap to both its dialogue and performances, and the insecurities and self-centered attitudes of these characters of a certain age and privilege are just fuel that stokes the fires of personal jealousy and general backstabbing. The screenplay from Sarah DeLappe has a great deal to say about people who grew up caring more about their lives on social media than actual interpersonal communication. And the reason no one can be trusted is because none of them are trustworthy; this is a film filled with low-stakes villains, at worst, or a collection of friends who don’t actually give a damn about each other, at best. 

However you read it, the movie is dynamic, ruthless, occasionally bloody, very funny, and something decidedly enjoyable, if you don’t mind not liking any of the characters a whole hell of a lot. Bodies Bodies Bodies is a bold experiment of a film with a handful of curious and fascinating portrayals of would-be influencers and future leaders of America, or so they think. Stenberg, Bakalova and Pace basically walk away with the movie, but Davidson and Sennott have their moments as well, with the latter being the film’s most unsure character with the most to prove and no means to prove it. It’s a wild ride and worthy critique of youth culture, and it says a lot that I think some people are afraid to say for fear of being attacked by the very thing they behold.

The film is now playing in theaters.

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Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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