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Unknown White Male (Unrated)

Release Date: February 24th, 2006 (Landmark Sunshine Cinemas) by Wellspring.
Directed by Rupert Murray.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Doug Bruce, a young man who mysteriously wakes up on Coney Island without remembering who he is.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Unknown White Male has all the suspense of a David Lynchian, psychological mystery. Doug initially appears healthy and sane, but all-of-a-sudden he loses consciousness as he rides the subway and wakes up on Coney Island without any recollection of his identity. A police officer tries to help him figure out what happened, but he has no signs of being beaten nor does he take any drugs or alcohol. From that point on, the real mystery is what caused his condition and why can he remember to do basic activities like tying his shoe? Writer/director Rupert Murray reenacts these initial scenes with Doug rather than just using his interviews. Once Doug enters a hospital, he calls a phone number written on a small pink note he kept in his pocket. Eventually, the person on the other end of the line vaguely recognized Doug’s voice and suspects that it belongs to one of her daughter’s friends. Luckily, she was right and thus begins Doug’s life from scratch. Nothing looks even remotely familiar to him—not even his own friends. It’s frightening to watch him look at a video of himself before the “incident” as if it wasn’t him. Nonetheless, Doug has a very likeable personality and at least you care about him almost as much as his friends do. Admittedly, it would have been more interesting to show more glimpses of what Doug’s normal life was like so that you could compare it to his new one. The stylish, shaky cinematography does make the film look like a music video at times, but it at least has a few inventive shots that show what going on inside Doug’s head.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Interviews with medical specialists such as neurologists provide plenty of insight into the mysterious condition of memory loss. Each doctor says something different about when the memory will return—instead of simply stating “I don’t know”. What they do know is that Doug just suffers from episodic memory loss, so it’s definitely not a total loss of memory. There’s something oddly uplifting about Doug’s newfound energy and youthful passion for life. The reunion with his father and sister do make for moving moments, but not enough to make you teary-eyed.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough scenes showing Doug’s normal life with his parents and friends.


IN A NUTSHELL: Oddly compelling, occasionally moving, and very well-shot!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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