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Overall Rating
3.53

Awesome: 19.44%
Worth A Look41.67%
Just Average: 16.67%
Pretty Crappy: 16.67%
Sucks: 5.56%

4 reviews, 12 user ratings


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Unknown White Male
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by Chris Wilson

"Not quite a documentary, though definitely not a failure either."
3 stars

Though it doesnít entirely work as a documentary, Unknown White Male is still a very compelling film for those interested in its subject matter: the true account of a man with total amnesia. However, instead of telling the medical side of the story, the film looks at how memory loss affects the person facing it and even more at how it affects past and future relationships.

On July 2nd 2003, Doug Bruce ceases to know who he was. Every memory of his previous 35 years is no longer accessible by him. Coming to on a subway in New York, Doug starts piecing back together his life with a telephone number found in his backpack. Over the next many months, he reacquaints himself with family and friends. For him though, this is the first time. Some relationships are regained; some relationships no longer have meaning.

This is the most fascinating aspect of the film. Because Doug no longer remembers who he was, heís suddenly a very different person. Some people in Dougís life find this new person easier to accept than others. Doug also finds some people in his former life that he would rather not have in his new one. Unlike his Hollywood counterparts, Doug doesnít race to find the truth of his former existence. He lets it slowly come to him, though always viewing it as an outsider.

Sadly, I also felt like an outsider as I found it quite difficult to feel bad for Doug, despite his memory loss. Even Doug doesnít seem especially bothered by it. He was a very successful stockbroker and had retired prior to his accident. He has no urgency to relearn an occupation, which would have made his side of the tale more compelling. With plenty of time on his hands, Doug can dine at fancy restaurants and fly across the globe at will to reacquaint himself with family and friends, finding a gorgeous Australian girlfriend along the way. These little details caused me to be somewhat wary about the authenticity of not only Dougís story but the documentary, too.

Letís get this straight: Unknown White Male can only be called a documentary in a very loose sense. Dougís friend Rupert Murray serves as documentarian, using many of Dougís home videoís to help guide the film and give it an intimate view of Dougís life. This isnít outright bogus, but what borders on fiction is the very stylized and atmosphere driven filming and editing that Murray uses. This aspect of the film seems just as important as telling Dougís story and honestly destroys any sense of objectivity that someone telling the true story of a friend with amnesia could possibly have.

Murray, who also serves as narrator, poses this question at the beginning of the film: if a personís memory was stripped from them, what would be left of that person? How much are personality and identity determined by memory and experience? Though itís hinted at, the question is never fully explored, a sacrifice for style. What the film does show is the human side of memory loss, something many will find worth remembering.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11238&reviewer=400
originally posted: 11/02/05 01:45:53
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sydney Film Festival For more in the 2005 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2005 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/02/11 hahahahahah what a joke - amazing as in completely impossible. 1 stars
3/01/08 Pamela White A great insight into the mind of an amnesiac 4 stars
8/29/06 James Very good 5 stars
1/26/06 Belinda GREAT !!! 5 stars
11/03/05 baseball-nut Very good movie, a must see if you have amnesia! haha! 4 stars
10/19/05 Donny B. Enjoyable, intriguing doc -can a jerk become nice if you knock his noggin? 4 stars
9/28/05 Missdontlikeit I dont Like It 1 stars
9/22/05 candice lake this is a beautiful film on an amazing story. truely a gift 5 stars
8/03/05 Rob Dusting Fascinating story excellently told & filmed 5 stars
6/19/05 William Spencer Intriguing, thought-provoking, deeply moving 5 stars
6/09/05 Emily Excellent film, completely absorbing. 5 stars
1/26/05 Nadine Brambilla amazing that this can happen! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  24-Feb-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Sep-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  22-Sep-2005


Directed by
  Rupert Murray

Written by
  (documentary)

Cast
  Doug Bruce



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