For the majority of this film’s 106-minute running time, Cole has all the charisma of a rag soaked in chloroform. At one point, he sucks nitrous oxide out of a metal canister, then sits with his eyes half-closed and his head flopping on top of his tattooed neck for nearly a full minute before picking up his phone and berating a woman who we soon find out is the mother of his child. We watch him pass out in a pool, on a couch, in the passenger seat of a car, and in the bedroom of an abandoned house he stumbles into while a girlfriend scores drugs across the street. In a flourish that’s very The Slim Shady LP-era Eminem, it turns out that the child who used to sleep there recently murdered his parents, and has a Cole Taurus poster hanging on his bedroom wall.
When he’s not unconscious, or on the verge of it, Cole is snorting coke in the back room of strip clubs, ignoring his young daughter (she seems used to it), and having sex with a woman who comes by late at night on hybrid drug dealing/sex work errands. He’s every rockstar cliché rolled into one, a tortured artist in the Kurt Cobain mold who spends his days desperately chasing oblivion in an attempt to outrun his fame. At times, he gestures towards making music, moments that throw isolated creative sparks like those in the interview scene mentioned above. But we don’t hear a full song until the very end of the film, a choice that does little to make the case for Cole’s genius—and, therefore, the audience’s engagement.
The point that “Taurus” is trying to make—that fame is a prison, and celebrities are prisoners whose souls become public property once they sell enough records—is unlikely to blow the mind of anyone who’s old enough to have a driver’s license. Visually, Kelly does cut a striking silhouette, with his underwear-model good looks, bleached blonde hair, and broken-puppet posture. And Sutton’s camera is infatuated with him, filming him using different types of cameras and under different lighting schemes. But the blank expression remains the same.