Competitive endurance tickling.
That’s all you need to know going into this film, and surely it’s enough to garner your intrigue. It is possibly the weirdest combination of words that have ever been strung together, but somehow it’s nowhere near the strangest thing that audiences will witness in David Farrier and Dylan Reeve’s documentary.
Tickled benefits greatly from its viewers knowing very little about it. The premise itself seems like enough to sustain the entire runtime, but very quickly, viewers become aware of the fact that this oddity we were initially presented with is just the tip of the iceberg.
Tickled certainly stands up as a piece of investigative journalism, but how does it fare as a film? While the drama and curiosity make for engaging viewing, the visuals sometimes fall flat. The cinematography is often picturesque, but the images themselves aren’t particularly compelling. It’s a lot of talking heads, cameras in cars and screen grabs of emails. These elements are the staples of documentaries, and are necessities in many cases, but having been spoilt with a recent wealth of cinematic documentaries, it’s hard not to expect a little more from the genre. Films like The Imposter and Cobain: Montage of Heck tore up the rulebook for docos and raised the bar to new heights. Even The Jinx on HBO managed to inject an extra dose of artfulness into their story while still maintaining the genre conventions and staples of documentary filmmaking – the same staples that made Tickled feel meandering and rote at times.
That being said, a documentary’s primary purpose isn’t to be cinematic, but rather to tell a story, convey information, or reveal a truth, and it is there that Tickled succeeds.
A number of subjects from the film attended a screening and Q&A with co-director Dylan Reeve in Los Angeles. The very unusual Q&A was streamed live on Facebook and involved legal threats and warnings of potential criminal charges for the filmmakers by the film’s subjects.