Posted on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 by Russ Fischer
Just about the last person I’d expect to see making a short film to promote a video game is Neil LaBute, the theater director who has made films like In the Company of Men, Your Friends and Neighbors and the remake of The Wicker Man. But the team behind Sony’s game Heavy Rain hired LaBute to make a film that explores one of the themes of the game, which is ‘how far would you go to save someone you love?’
So here is How Far Would You Go?, in which we see LaBute and directors like Peter Bogdanovich, Stephen Frears, Nicolas Roeg and Chris Weitz talk about the lengths to which they’d go for someone they love, and about the nature of love and creativity in general. Actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult and Ben Chaplin chime in as well. It’s an odd collection of talent, and an unusual piece of film.
IGN has the clip, which is barely recognizable as a promo piece for a video game. I don’t remember Peter Bogdanovich singing a little verse to sell Dante’s Inferno or Super Smash Brothers. But then, Heavy Rain is an unusual game which is based on exploration and emotion more than action and adventure. I’ve just started to play it myself, so I can’t comment on the value of the game and the story it tells. But I do like hearing these brief comments about love, hate and sacrifice from the ‘witnesses’ assembled by LaBute. And I love the idea that a gamer who doesn’t know anything about Bodganovich or Roeg might discover their movies through this piece. (Doubtful, maybe, but possible.)
There’s also a conversation with LaBute about How Far Would You Go? posted at Director’s Notes. The recording might be interesting to LaBute fans, as it recaps his directorial career in film and discusses his approach to making movies before getting into the background of his work with Sony. The Heavy Rain ‘documentary’ is only discussed towards the end of the sixteen-minute conversation.
Of the Heavy Rain piece, LaBute says
You can always view this as it’s own separate little entity, ’cause it really isn’t trying to hock the game. But I think for the people who wrestle with games, like ‘how violent is this or that?’, it will ground those questions in the reality of working artists…[it's not] on the website touting the game. This is only saying ‘this is some material that you might find interesting, if in fact you find the game interesting.’