Erasing David (David Bond, 2009)

29Apr10

Starring David Bond. Directed by David Bond & Melinda McDougall. Rating: PG. Running time: 81 minutes.

Wow, what a surprise: databases exist, compiled by the state, which store information regarding where we live and when we were born; private companies keep records of what we buy from them; CCTV cameras observe us daily; Facebook has pictures of us; computers have location-trackable IP addresses and our internet providers know what sites we go on. Is this really revelatory stuff? I’m pretty sure it isn’t, but Erasing David seems to think it is. Or maybe it doesn’t, but at least thinks it can use this information-situation in such a way as to make an intriguing film. Either way, it completely and utterly fails, and everyone is destined to come out of it feeling ever so slightly underwhelmed.

The fact that it was released in cinemas tonight with a live stream to a roundtable discussion in London, where former shadow home secretary David Davis, the director David Bond himself, and members of No2ID and protest group Liberty joined to discuss Britain’s invasion of privacies, nearly tricks you into thinking the film really has something to say. But the fact is that the story is as stupidly boring as this: David Bond decides it would be interesting to try and make himself disappear, and see if his self-hired private investigators can find him. Naturally, they do, but only because he eventually returns to London for an NHS appointment regarding his wife’s pneumonia. If he had stayed in the fields of Pembrokeshire with nothing but his Blackberry, which, quite comfortingly and ironically, the two private investigators do not have the power to track, he probably would have been waiting to be found for eternity. Of course the state could have found him if they had really wanted, but he admits himself that to get them to do so he’d have to commit a serious crime, in which case he probably should be tracked anyway. So what the hell is the point supposed to be?

The film seems committed to trying to rubbish the old saying that if you’re innocent, there’s nothing to worry about, which is why it’s quite funny that it actually provides evidence for that belief, given he’s only found because he’s asked to be and because his location becomes so obvious. Only if he had been guilty and made his location a little trickier would the privacy issues have been deeper and perhaps more surprising, but even then they would have felt justified, meaning the film’s intentions seem to have no purpose at all. I’d even go so far as to say the Bourne films, especially the Ultimatum, raises better issues of this nature than David does. And in Bourne, it’s not even the primary concern.

Nice try at being original and provoking political debate, Sir. But next time, for God’s sake, please have something to say.

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