Peter and Talley have just met. Talley, a young, idealistic woman, likes TV and the internet and the way they connect people. Peter, a bike messenger, fears that media replacement of reality also replaces his freedom. Their beliefs and nascent attraction are put to the test when they and four other strangers inexplicably find themselves to be characters in Nothing In A Rectangle Is True. The movie’s scene structure prevents Talley and Peter from connecting and discovering more about each other. Meanwhile Roy, a world-wizened older man, regrets mistakes he’s made in life: he vows to live the rest of it more directly. This proves hard to do inside a movie.
The characters, who also include a middle aged housewife, a media-savvy young boy and a matter-of-fact Thai student, end up on a green-screen special effects stage well stocked with media equipment. As both media-makers and characters, they arrange revealing encounters with real life net wizards, scientists, filmmakers, philosophers and other tricksters, including film director Martin Scorsese, Buddhist scholar Wes Nisker and cyborg anthropologist Amber Case, to substantiate their beliefs about media, truth and reality.
Technology has increasingly wedged itself between us and reality: we now experience each other and much of our world in low resolution media. Peter and Roy find that the personalized mediated world is fragmenting our society into a constellation of micro-communities organized around the self, which subverts the marketplace of ideas and makes working together for change impossible.
Rectangle’s characters experiment with storytelling by making this movie. Talley and Peter, attempting to get closer, struggle to overcome ideology, media illusion, delusion and, perhaps most bothersome, the relentless pace of film narrative. Roy searches for authentic experience and a way out. In the process, they challenge the audience’s perception of mediated and actual reality.