“HipBeat” opens with docudrama scenes of European protest and solemn voice-over narration.
“No one is free if others are oppressed,” the aptly-named “Angy” (short for Angus) intones. We’re “being lied to…capitalism ruined democracy…These police, they’re only here to protect capitalism.”
And in the mind of our Euro-Irish hero, “We the people must fight back” because “every struggle is real.“
But in this fever dream of writer/director/star Samuel Kay Forrest (“Groove”), it’s “every struggle” added on to that global one against anti-democratic fascism that takes over his movie.
Angy’s in Berlin and in love, he thinks, with “the one,” Angie (Marie Céline Yildirim). It’s just that he can’t stop picking up women in all the raves that are part of the Euro-anarchist scene.
He can shoplift spray paint to spread his “HipBeAt” graffiti, with the “A” rendered into global brand for for “anarchists.” He can plan breaking and enterings to “hack” the system with trusted friends. He can weather arrests and arguments with his single mom, whom he’s always hitting up for money because “I live on the streets.”
Somehow, he’s managing to maintain that hip “Last of the Mohicans” haircut, drink and do drugs, organize without cell phones and philosophize without a college degree or any visible means of support.
Yet Angy can’t stop obsessing about his “polyamory,” his feckless infidelity, his need to hook-up — constantly — to consult with drag queens, cross dress and occasionally go down on a guy.
“The Revolution will not be televised,” he narrates, quoting Gil-Scott Heron. “It”ll be live streamed!”
Not in you’re in charge, mate. In broadening Angy’s amorphous notion of “The Struggle,” Forrest — the writer-director– takes his eyes off the prize.
There’s an argument to be made about “struggle” being universal and ensuring the rights of women and everybody on the sexual spectrum having equal validity in that debate. But man, “HipBeat’s” abrupt turn in this direction makes for a messy, indulgent and shallow movie.
Because if you can’t identify a threat and stay focused on it as the subject of your movie without it drifting into other obsessions, you’re lost.
“Everything passes, but freedom will rise again,” Angy says, hopefully. Nothing Angy or Forrest shows us here backs that up. Whatever pronoun Angy is comfortable with isn’t focused enough to manage that.
Rating: unrated, drug abuse, sex, nudity, profanity
Cast: Samuel Kay Forrest, Marie Céline Yildirim
Credits: Scripted and directed by Samuel Kay Forrest. A Mother Earth Films release.
Running time: 1:29