Your weekly streaming pick is, once again, courtesy of Netflix. Bandersnatch is a Black Mirror movie/episode/experience. If somehow you haven’t heard, Bandersnatch is a choose your own adventure movie. You get to make choices that impact how the movie plays out.
The synopsis for Bandersnatch is short. Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) is an amature game developer. His game, Bandersnatch, is a choose your own adventure game based on a massive novel. The game is ahead if its time. Stefan becomes obsessed. He starts to question his reality as he delves deeper into his created world.
The synopsis is short because the story varies greatly based on your decisions. When Bandersnatch was first announced, it was tough to tell the scope of the choices.
First impressions was that a choose your own adventure movie defeats the purpose of a movie. Putting on a movie after a long day is a perfect way to unwind and let the story, world, and characters unfold around you. No work on your part but to keep up. The decisions came up often enough to be engaging but not so often that it was a nuisance. The second assumption was that the decisions wouldn’t amount to much.
There was a thought that the choices would be a gimmick. That they would only affect the very ending of the story. Furthermore it seemed as if the decisions, simple in nature, would lead to a mere handful of endings.
These assumptions couldn’t have been more wrong. Bandersnatch debuted a month ago. It’s only your recommendation now because I was absorbing every tract, arc, and twist I could. I watched the movie half a dozen times. I went through choosing different options countless more. I still don’t think I’ve seen every variation.
Even the smallest change can lead to massive decisions down the line. Decisions you may not like the repercussions from. When you finish watching the movie you get the option to jump back to specific points. These pivotal points all you to change the story without watching from the beginning.
There may be a point or two where you hit a dead end. This happens surprisingly little given the scope of the movie and all the footage the cast had to shoot. When a dead ends found the movie doesn’t course correct to the other decision. It does go back but the characters in the movie act different. They have a sense of deja vu, they have previous knowledge as if unfolding the story happened to them as well, except it didn’t. This meta type film making is stunning.
Excuse me for going long today. There is a lot to say about this groundbreaking movie. Bandersnatch has forged a new path with exciting implications.
Given the scope of the movie the core cast is modest. That must have made it easier for scheduling but exhausting for the actors. There is so much to keep track of. The movie assembles on the fly in a piecemeal fashion. The scenes come from a repository based on the decision but the story still flows. It always flows.
Fionn Whitehead is a newer actor. His IMDB page doesn’t have many entries. He carries Bandersnatch almost entirely on his shoulders. Co-Lead Will Poulter has been delivering powerful performances for some time. He’s done genre movies like The Maze Runner series and an entry in Narnia. He’s also delivered deep resonating performances like his turn in Detroit.
The rest of the cast rounds out nicely. Everyone does a great job selling a story that is remarkably engaging while still giving the viewer control.
At this point I want to continue gushing about the nuanced setting. The perfectly appointed set pieces, the learning curve of the decisions, and the depth of the decisions. I could talk for pages more about all the branches and scenes that feel like discoveries. Bandersnatch isn’t something you should hear about or talk about. Bandersnatch is an experience in experimental film making. Go watch it. After that. Watch it again with new decisions.