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Film Review: "The Fanatic" (2019) ★★


There is one thing I will never be able to understand about the standards being set in our modern and highly advanced society. For instance, the one that dictates what kind of joke is funny, what to wear, teaching others how to parent their own children while they fail in their own way. We pretend we know everything about everyone. We don’t like it when, for example, a mentally unstable person is being captured in the movie as a violent individual, when in reality, no one is immune from being bad. It’s not how it works in society and never will. Thus, when it comes to filmmaking or storytelling, it has its own way of approaching the gut-wrenching concept and not necessarily the exact same way we might picture in our head.

“The Fanatic”, based on Fred Durst’s story who penned the script along with Dave Bekerman, who is also handling the duty as a director, follows an autistic man named Moose (John Travolta). He appears to be a harmless and very determined man when it comes to getting autographs from the actors he admires. However, when his most favorite actor of all time, Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa), refuses to sign an autograph for him, the man not only crosses the line but destroys it to achieve his goal. However, soon he realizes that his ability to stand for himself and fight against his persona to get a signature from the celebrity can’t be combined in one task. Thus, he takes another step to eliminate all the distractions in his way.

“The Fanatic”, I must admit, is a very tricky film to watch. For instance, while we may understand Moose’s obsession with Hunter Dunbar, it still does not provide the right justification for his actions or literally becoming a stalker. However, Hunter Dunbar himself is not an angel. For example, when Moose is using an app to track celebrity houses to find where Dunbar lives, the actor, instead of signing an autograph to get rid of the annoying fan, treats him rudely. Moose, being a subject of abuse from all corners, is getting tired of it thinking that this is the right time for him to stand for himself. But he confuses that approach in his mind by becoming more violent.

“The Fanatic” would not work if not for John Travolta’s transformative performance. Whether it was the make-up, haircut, or the way he walked, everything about his character was creepy and terrifying. He manages to capture a troubled man, whether with a mental illness or not, his obsession with someone’s life more than himself. That is something happening in real life. Stalkers like Moose are everywhere who continuously chase celebrities for whatever reason comes to their mind. Those people are vastly called normal, however, they do act like they lack common sense. In the case of Moose, it was not just common sense. Being a fan is all that he had in his life that made him move forward. And when that opportunity was taken away from him by the famous actor, he felt threatened and disturbed. Because he knew nothing else to do with his life other than being occupied with the life of others.

Fred Durst’s “The Fanatic” may not be an excellent work of art but it certainly deserves your attention. It takes you straight to Hollywood where the battle between a fan and an actor is about to begin. Certain scenes are shot so realistically, Moose begins reminding me of those people who would stand outside of RITZ Hotel just to see a glimpse of a famous person. Maybe that’s the reason I understood Durst’s intention and the message he tried to send to the audience. Again, director is not a messenger just a storyteller. But from “The Fanatic” we learn two things – being a celebrity is not easy and, let’s not forget, it comes with its own price. While being a fan is a whole different story, without fans there will be no acting job. But there is a line between the two one should never cross. And once it happens, the outcome of it might be worse than in “The Fanatic” that cannot be avoided.

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