The digital feature Every Move You Make turns hackneyed material into something fresh and irresistibly charming. Written and directed by Glenn Andreiev from a story by Paul Kanter, the film, about a young woman who claims she is being stalked, masks a series of subtle inflections beneath an engagingly blunt, rough-hewn style. The film is effortlessly analytical insofar as nearly everything we see in it encourages scrutiny and debate.
It’s a film about, among other things, blurred boundaries and compromised attitudes. The protagonist, Casey (Erin Cummiskey, who contributed dialogue, in a fetching bravura performance), operates a Greek eatery in a Long Island community. Shawna is her employee; yet when Casey becomes fretfully obsessed with the idea that she is being stalked, Shawna (a school friend, too, I believe) becomes her confidante and even takes her in—into her father’s house—for a short spell. A private criminologist (played by New York’s Subway Vigilante, Bernard Goetz) is shown demonstrating how to pack a concealed weapon, thus blurring the distinction between protection and aggression. The investigating police detective feels more compelled by anticipated community pressure to shield the accused stalker, a local high school “hero” being courted by colleges to play football, than to respond fully to Casey’s fears for her safety. This blurs the boundary between his sense of professional responsibility and his sense of communal responsibility. Anson Shine, the so-called stalker, moreover, is caught between the pathology attributed to him and his anxious pursuit of a date. We may say (especially since the film subjectively discloses his erotic fantasies and dreams, which, if you ask me, are extraordinarily chaste) that the line between normal and abnormal is, in him, blurred. But so is the line that defines how he is perceived, for this same boy who proceeds from being a figure of annoyance to a terrorizing one of danger to Casey ends up being rewarded with a date by another girl he pursues in the same way he pursued Casey. Indeed, the boy may be absolutely harmless, for all the rummaging through garbage bags that he does in order to cull intimate details about them with which to close the distance between himself and the girls who have caught his eye. For all her fears, it isn’t Casey who is attacked; it’s Anson, by some street vigilantes outside Casey’s home. The poor boy is beaten to a pulp by these would-be Bernie Goetzes.
By these blurred lines and twists of circumstance, the very notion of “stalking” is thrown into question, along with the responsiveness of the police and even Casey’s mental stability. In Casey’s mind, it seems, this boy who had been too shy to approach her in high school is warped and enlarged to seem like some sort of monster. Anson may deserve some sort of response for his boorish behavior, but it’s unclear that he deserves all that the “stalkee” puts him through here. This includes the videotape that she makes for him that cannot help but agitate and excite him, moving him for the first time across the boundary dividing his space and hers. It’s this tape that brings Anson to Casey’s house in the middle of the night.
For me, this isn’t a perfect film; the description of Casey’s rattled sensibility doesn’t require all the boo-tactics to which Andreiev resorts, and one shock to the heart, regrettably, is purely for us: interrupting and derailing Casey’s pursuit of someone she (wrongly) suspects to be the stalker, someone literally bursts into the frame. Rather, it is Andreiev’s reflective wit and sumptuous taste for irony and ambiguity that make the film, through repeated viewings, so pleasurable. Something else is very decent about this film: the extent to which it allows us to feel for Casey in her panicked circumstance isn’t achieved at Anson’s expense. Andreiev equally pursues, largely through expressionistic means (including delightfully primitive special effects), the boy’s subjectivity and the girl’s. Casey’s ambivalence about the boy’s pursuit of her, refreshed each time she picks up her phone (its ringing is the film’s signature sound), is best underscored when she doesn’t answer but postpones answering it, “giving in” later, by which time her curiosity has become too strong to repress. Casey doesn’t seem to have any social life apart from what the boy (at first) anonymously and invisibly provides, and her imagining that he is inside her house when in fact only the phone line connects them skirts wish fulfillment. This is a film about two very lonely young persons.
A deeply dimpled John Roberts plays Anson Shine very broadly. Roberts seems slight to be playing a football player, but rather than grating as being unrealistic, given the whole nature of the film, this strange detail only adds to the poignant quality of the character. Andreiev hasn’t gone down the stereotypical TV-movie road where the arrogant, ever-popular high school athlete gets away with murder. Actually, Anson doesn’t get away with anything at all. (Except, as I stated earlier, his life.)
The director himself appears in a cameo as a Florida relative of Casey’s. It’s the sweetest performance in the film—so much so, in fact, that one might miss what the character casually implies when he is talking to Casey: that as a child Casey had a propensity for lying. We may thus summarize the trajectory of her personality as follows: the child who lied to others has since become someone who lies a lot to herself. Although the film certainly doesn’t insist that this is the case, it will occur to many viewers, at least in passing, that Anson Shine, who still haunts her now that she is in the Sunshine State, may have been Casey’s last chance for happiness. Or maybe not. The point is, she didn’t give him (or herself) a chance, and one suspects that she won’t give anyone else a chance either.
Every Move You Make stands a lot on its ear (or eye), such as the positioning and movement of the camera to imply the stalking that Casey fears/desires—a virtual parody of DePalmanoia. It’s a little film that doesn’t deserve to be lost in the oddity bin to which its principally talked-about feature, the resurrection of Goetz, threatens to consign it. One should do what one can to search it out.