Reinvention Redefined: A Haunting Doc


Amnesia, per the Psychiatric Dictionary, is the most often faked mental anomaly—the plot device that powered countless film noirs and soap operas, as well as recent American foreign policy and Rupert Murray’s haunting if sketchy doc Unknown White Male. Processed by cops, brought to a terrifying hospital ER, and identified by the luck of a stray phone number in his pocket, a mysterious subway passenger turns out to be one Doug Bruce, a British-born stockbroker with a Noho loft. What is personality? the movie wonders. Is it a factor of essence or experience? Free to redefine himself through his actions, Bruce seems a new person—much nicer, to judge from old home videos of his earlier lads-abroad vacation trips. No convincing medical or psychological explanation is ever given; Bruce is a walking metaphor, even a miracle. This “unknown white male” has been granted a second chance, born again into a state of grace. “Blessed are the forgetful,” as the receptionist quoted Nietzsche in Eternal Sunshine, “for they get the better even of their blunders. . . . Found it in my Bartlett’s.”