Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Now on Netflix: Voyeur (2017)

Voyeur (2017) - Directed by Myles Kane, Josh Koury.

By Kenny Howell

Finding that right balance when examining a despicable person is a difficult thing to do.

That is definitely the trouble that Voyeur has, the documentary about Gerald Foos, the motel owner that spied on his customers and relayed the story to Gay Talese for a New Yorker article and a book.

Foos is a gross person who is completely blind to the fact that what he was doing it horribly wrong. He uses the juvenile approach to defending it, making it a part of the greater good as if he is some great researcher like Alfred Kinsey because he recorded the spying. Except researchers don't talk about masturbating to their subjects a couple of times a night.


Foos contacted Talese years ago when the journalist was writing Thy Neighbor's Wife, a groundbreaking non-fiction work on sexuality in the early 1980s. Talese set on the story for years, but when Foos felt the statute of limitations was passed, he agreed to Talese writing an article about it, as well as the making of this documentary.

There are ethical arguments abound in this, one being that Talese went along with it, even going to spy on a couple one night in the hotel. He uses the excuse that he is embedding himself into the story so he fully understands it, which I get his argument, but also he is breaking the law and someone's rights to privacy. He sort of sounds like Foos' defense. He also seems to fly right over the fact that Foos is a degenerate, mostly because he never informed law enforcement about what he was doing.

It really mars what could be an interesting portrait of a crazy old man. Foos' brain obviously works in a very different way, and some of that oddity comes out late in the film as everything starts to unravel. I think the filmmakers could have benefited from bypassing Talese a bit and made it their own. Journalists can bring different viewpoints to a story, and this story probably needed it after the criticism of the book after the publication, chief among those whether Foos could be trusted, something Talese struggled with a bit. It just leaves it feeling overwhelmingly muddled and a bit of a missed opportunity.

Voyeur is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: **1/2

No comments:

Post a Comment