Do you know what stock photos are?
They’re filler, the fruits of a near-forced union between desperate photographers and struggling performers or, sometimes, enterprising retirees looking for a second career that won’t interfere with lanai time. I say “near-forced” because no one is working against their wills here, just against their better judgment. After all, who in their right mind would devote their lives to creating the soulless stills of businessmen laughing, construction workers reviewing blueprints, or a young lady flossing her teeth? Yes, who in their right mind?
Jeff Loveness’s unnamed character in Stock — a parallel universe’s love child of Jake Gyllenhaal and Wes Bentley — works a dead-end job in a North Hollywood stock-photography studio run by a megalomaniacal and delusional Bridger Winegar. Even our “hero’s” therapist (played by a pitch-perfect Julie Brister) tells him he’s a loser — a “baby-dicked bitch,” in fact. Yep, he doesn’t have much going for him at all. That is, until Mitra Jouhari wanders into his studio for a stock-photo session. You see, she’s gotta floss her teeth, and no one does it quite like her. Loveness’s loser is smitten. Life may just be worth living after all. That’s where the fairy tale ends.
What follows is an expertly tailored, absurdist fuck-you to the rom-com, and a ringing endorsement for the symbiosis of editor Kyle Blair-Henderson and composer Michael Sempert.
You’ll never see stock photos the same way again.