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article imageReview: 'Syrup' is a shady business Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 11, 2013 in Entertainment
A slacker marketing graduate conceives a million-dollar idea, but must trust his attractive corporate counterpart to get the concept off the ground.
There's a certain perception of the communications industry – advertising, marketing, public relations. There's a common belief they don't have your (the public's) best interests at heart. All they care about is the bottom line and they'll spin anything to make their company look good. While this is not always the case, Syrup does nothing to challenge the stereotype but instead embraces it in an outlandish farce.
Scat (Shiloh Fernandez) is not just a person, he's a brand. He's absorbed every word of his marketing text books and is living his life according to their writing. When he comes up with a million-dollar drink idea, he takes it directly to Six (Amber Heard) – sounds like "sex" – creative director of the No. 1 soda company. A couple of knives in the back later, they're a formidable team in the beverage marketing world and fighting to stay ahead of the competition and each other.
Every aspect of this film's portrayal of the business world is extreme and/or exaggerated reality. Six's image is the ultimate corporate vixen, in her words combining the four categories in which men place women in one fierce looking package: mothers, virgins, sluts and bitches. The boys club she must infiltrate consists of the worst glass ceiling benefactors who jump at the chance to raise a lesser qualified man above her. Death is leveraged as free press and a great opportunity of which they should take advantage. Poaching the competition involves literal kidnapping. Human weakness and desire are their cash cows. But it’s not only the purveyors of this glitzy poison that are targeted, but the sheep-like consumers who blindly devour it.
As shallow as this film's characters are, so is the overall story. There's the formulaic epiphany that all their work thus far has been a detriment to society, but no great insight into the "power" of advertising. The textbook theories and strategies quoted by Scat and Six for the audience provide explanations, but no great revelations. It's all a superficial exhibition of the many perceived evils of corporate advertising. It’s clear writer Max Barry is familiar with the subject, which is why the satirical marketing comedy hits its far-right mark so skilfully.
Heard is severe in sharp business attire and deep rouge lips. Her appearance commands attention and respect, but her facade is barely supported by a voice that belongs to a woman constantly unsure of her position. Fernandez is almost her polar opposite. He's emotional, unkempt and a man of ideas – not execution. Kellan Lutz has a small role, for the majority of which he's silent. But he shows he can quietly be the centre of attention and look good doing it.
The charade is fast-paced and never-ending. Rather than an intriguing tale of modern advertising, it's a lesson in invention – both corporate and self.
Director: Aram Rappaport
Starring: Shiloh Fernandez, Amber Heard and Kellan Lutz
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