[Tribeca Film Festival Capsule Review] THE BETA TEST
Courtesy of IFC Films
THE BETA TEST, written and directed by Jim Cummings and PJ McCabe, who both star in the film, is a dark comedy that looks at the unraveling of Jim Cummings character, Jordan, after he receives a purple envelope for a one-night stand. The film talks about expectations placed on us in clearly delineated lines of what we can’t be, what we must be, and who we are, which are explored in exaggerated, spiraling fashion through Jordan’s descent. It also explores the paranoia and guilt that builds when someone is unfaithful.

The opening, with an unknown couple, is shocking and violent in contrast with the comedic spiral of our lead. Plus again, it’s a couple that at first glance you would think has the perfect life. They are in a beautiful apartment and lovely clothes. It all looks so pristine and perfect. The underbelly of societal expectations is seething under this whole scene as we wait for the situation to sour. The scene gives us a “what is going on” moment as it ends.

Jordan is the guy the world tells us has it all and is happy and living life. He’s a white man, engaged to be married, working as an agent yet it’s all a facade. At the slightest temptation, the chance for an anonymous tryst, he succumbs and then his guilt, and suspicions climb. Jordan is the epitome of “fake it till you make it”. Everything about him exudes fake confidence and happiness. Yet, he ultimately appears awkward and bumbling which adds to the awkward downturn he takes. The film is entertaining and viewers will laugh watching Jordan’s behavior. They will wonder how far Jordan is willing to go find out who is pulling the strings. THE BETA TEST is a murky critique of the industry, society and the level of phony this world expects.

THE BETA TEST had its North American Premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

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