Seven years ago stand-up comedian Bennett Arron had his life rather ruined when someone stole his identity and used to run up credit which he was then responsible for. The result was him and his pregnant wife giving up on buying a house and move in with his parents. Now, with nothing changed to prevent it happening again, Arron sets out to do it to someone else, record it happening and, a month after starting, present the information to the Home Office in a meeting to demand changes to make it harder. As a comic book fan, he looks in his phone books and selects two gentlemen called Peter Parker to target.
The topic of identify fraud is an important one because, although none of us think it could possible happen to us, it is a rising crime. So this film and the concept within is an interesting and timely one. It is not a new idea but it is a good one the approach has worked on other films such as Super Size Me where the documentary maker lives the question himself to make his point. However, lets look at Super Size Me as a good example. What it does is show the "stunt" but it is interspersed with facts and figures around the topic to inform the viewer on the wider issue.
With this film, it does a good job of showing the stunt but doesn't do as good a job of informing on the wider issue it does have some voice-over and stats about it but it doesn't do it that well. As a result the stunt becomes the whole film which is not a bad thing but perhaps exposes the problems a bit more. Hence it does tend to repeat itself as well as focusing too much on Arron as a person I did question the value of seeing him tell his parents what he was up to, while the meeting with the real Parker was just awkward and added little value. Nor does it help that the stunt doesn't actually work that well. Sure, he shows how easy it is but he fails to really shock the viewer into action (he does nothing to force us through the "it'll never happen to me" barrier). Nor does he even get to make his point to the authorities, who ignore his phone calls to the point where he has to make a conclusion to his film standing on a bridge with placards, looking daft and adding nothing. The real conclusion of him being arrested is only referred to in a very brief slide at the end.
I'm not sure how good a stand-up Arron is, but as a focus of a film he is poor. He has a weak personality and he tends to be in the corner of the screen even when he is in the middle of it objects in the background tend to effortlessly grab the eye more than he does. He does damage his own material and his production team don't seem to have been able to pull all this material into a working film. I was actually surprised by how weak a film it was when you consider how impacting this should have been the man ran up credit in other people's names then got a driver's licence that could have let him do the same with the Home Secretary of the time, Charles Clarke! It's impressive so why does it feel so dull? Overall then, a reality documentary on an important subject that has great success with parts of its gimmick. However by making the stunt and Arron himself the total film, failing to educate and failing to have a strong conclusion, it is surprisingly dull and fails to make the impact it should have done.
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