Ye gods, it’s another mockumentary. In this one, Melbourne hit man Ray Shoesmith (Scott Ryan, who also wrote, directed, and produced the film after apparently going on a Tarantino binge) is followed around by his slightly dim next-door neighbor, a budding filmmaker looking for his big break. With camera rolling, Ray alternately plies the tools of his trade and muses on everything from fatherhood and the upside of legalizing drugs, to macho cinema and gay pride. The viewer is meant to chuckle at the escalating violence-ringed absurdities (the kidnapping of a bafflingly passive drug dealer who winds up becoming a road-trip buddy, for example) and at Ray’s brutish philosophies, but the chuckles are few. Though the film starts out modestly amusing, it very, very quickly lists into tedium. It’s clear that Ryan is having a ball playing Ray—and that Ray is having a ball playing to the cameras. It might weakly be argued that The Magician has something to say about the heady power that men derive from, in the words of Ray, “performing masculinity and machismo.” And the film does make gestures toward real insight in the third act, when it briefly and consciously taps into some homoerotic energy before scurrying back to Ray’s gangsta posturing.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 10, 2010