Review: The Subject

THE SUBJECT (2021)

Intense and complicated as it tackles themes that will resonate with viewers for their pervasiveness through today’s society, The Subject seizes your attention and never once waivers, led by a standout performance from Jason Biggs.

When a successful white filmmaker (Jason Biggs) captures the murder of a Black teenage man (Nile Bullock) on tape, the fallout upends his career and his life, forcing examination into his lack of action and the lengths he will go for his craft. The Subject is the tale of two films, the first half a setup for what is about to come. As Biggs’ character continues to be tormented by the events that have transpired, things are further complicated by Carra Patterson’s Marley, a character who is very much challenges him to rethink his role in what has happened. We continue to see snapshots of conversations with Nile Bullock’s late Malcolm, each increasingly representative of missed opportunities for Biggs’ Phil to be a mentor. 

It all leads to a 45-minute second half confrontation between Malcolm’s mother Leslie (Aunjanue Ellis) that is heart-wrenching, eyeopening, and immeasurably powerful. Through it all, the audience is forced to wrestle with the ethics around documentary filmmaking, the white savior mentality, Black Lives Matter, and more in this deeply layered first feature from director Lanie Zipoy. The Subject challenges your preconceived notions and forces a change in perspective in a way that leaves you pondering its messages long after the end credits roll. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.

The Subject hits limited theaters and VOD/Digital this Friday.

Rating: 4/5

Photo from IMDb

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