The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Ivan Nagy was a key player in the life of Heidi Fleiss, the "Hollywood Madam," who was sentenced to three years for procuring prostitutes for an A-list of top Hollywood players and free-spending Arabs. Fleiss was not an innocent when she met Nagy. At 16, she was already the lover of the millionaire financial swindler Bernie Cornfield. But it was Nagy who (according to the legendary Madam Alex) "sold" Fleiss to Alex for $500, then used her as a mole to take over Alex's thriving call girl operation. And it was Nagy who eventually turned Fleiss over to the police — again, if Madam Alex can be believed.
What is intriguing about "Heidi Fleiss, Hollywood Madam" is that no one can necessarily be believed. This is an endlessly suggestive, tantalizing documentary, in which the young life of Heidi Fleiss is reflected back at us from funhouse mirrors: Now she is a clever businesswoman, now a dupe, now a cynical hooker, now an innocent wrapped around the little finger of a manipulative hustler. Watching the film, we hear several versions of the same stories. Someone is lying, yes — but is anyone telling the truth?
Nick Broomfield is an enterprising documentary filmmaker for the BBC who tracks his prey with a lightweight camera and sound equipment that can hear around corners. This film is the record of his six months on the case of Heidi Fleiss. She might seem like an insignificant, even pathetic figure, but by the time Broomfield is finished she has become a victim, and almost sympathetic, if only in contrast with the creatures she dealt with. She wanted to be bad, buthad absolutely no idea what she was getting into.
"As much bravado as she displays, to me she's still a little kid," her mother tells Broomfield. Her mother participated in this documentary? Most certainly. And so did Fleiss, and Nagy, and Victoria Sellers (Peter's daughter and Heidi's best friend), and Madam Alex, and former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates. They participated because Broomfield paid them to talk. Madam Alex counts out her cash carefully, and we see Gates pocketing $2,500 before submitting to Broomfield's questions.