Bikini is the name of a marine who has returned from serving in Iraq. Since arriving, she has failed to find proper room in a shelter, as seen by Kate. However, her presence catches the attention of her boyfriend, Trevor, a documentary filmmaker, who decides to switch their documentary’s focus from the shelter itself to Bikini. The crew follows Bikini around as she attempts to reintegrate herself into society and reclaim custody of her daughter, and they get more than they bargain for the longer they stay on the project.
As the film started, I waited for that moment where the story would grab my interest and keep it until the end. Strangely, the movie barely has a narrative arc to stand on, and most of the scenes act with no rhyme or reason. It is almost as if the filmmakers (not the ones featured in the movie) just filmed whatever scenes they could during the day and just decided that they were done and stitched them together. As a result, it feels difficult to connect with any of the characters.What I got in the end was one of the strangest movies I have seen all year, and this was the year when I saw Like Me, another film involving exploitative documentary filmmaking.
The best moments are when the characters come across individuals who tell them to turn off the camera, and the following scenes clearly show that they didn’t. Aside from that, the film barely touches on the idea of exploiting the lives of others through documentary filmmaking, which could have made the film more interesting. It is also possible that some of the more surreal moments can be seen as satirical, such as what happens to Kate and Bikini once Trevor is out of the picture, but the film has an inconsistent tone and more often than not takes itself too seriously.
One thing that gets frustrating is trying to tell whether or not the scenes I am watching are part of the film the characters are shooting. Some of these scenes are followed by characters watching the previous scene in their footage, which would be fine, but there are certain reverse angles that reveal there being no cameraman. So it appears that a phantom camera was filming half of this documentary. And the ending! Oh boy, the ending of this film is so farfetched and out of left field. To be fair, there are moments in the film that the ending can connect to, but what happens is still too crazy to be taken with a grain of salt. And no, the “magical fairytale” aspect audiences are applying to this film doesn’t work either.
Bikini Moon, in the end, is a bit of a mixed bag. While it is commendable of the filmmakers to take risks in how to present a story like this, the end result feels a bit unsatisfying. Condola Rashad is a commanding screen presence, and the rest of the cast is capable enough to carry the material, but the material itself keeps the story from being truly great.
The film is now playing.