Miranda July's feature debut seems like one of those 'love or hate' it things. It's a mix of small stories, varied characters and quite a bit of awkwardness. There aren't any high profile actors, with July herself playing one of the leads. John Hawke is the only recognizable, as you may have seen him in Lost, Deadwood, East Bound and Down, or Lincon. While some will find the conversation to be smart and interesting, others will see it as dull and too drawn out at times. You can find me in the former camp, but definitely felt lulled a couple of times. I like the overall pace of the movie as it actually felt like a pretty quick ~90 minutes.
I thought the acting was pretty solid overall. Hawkes and the young actors stood out the most, but I didn't feel that anybody was horrible. July may have been the weakest, but I think her character was a portrayal of herself in many ways, so it worked.
The score was especially strong for me. Apparently most of it was done on a single keyboard. It was never distracting, but was certainly noticeable a few times... but in a positive way. It flowed well with how I felt throughout the movie, especially during any awkwardness.
Most of this film's delight, I think, relies on its subtext and constant reminders of the general theme here. For me, the movie is simply about people and connecting with others. I hesitate to say relationships, as I don't feel like the point relies on any sort of familiarity or longevity between the people. Be it face to face, through art, jokes, innuendos, chat rooms, shared interests, or lighting your hand on fire... people are trying to connect, and pass the time. People are individuals and we all have our own intricacies, interests and issues. From the right views... we're all pretty much the same at a distance. Peter points this out specifically in his punctuational printout as everyone is nothing more than a spot of ink, but in different positions and in approximations to each other. We all need to come to grips with ourselves...and even when we finally have most of that figured out... we want to share it with others. The film shows that this is something we all go through and struggle with, regardless of age, gender, profession, etc. It instantly made me think of a quote that I've seen tossed around the internet a few times (although, Dr. Seuss did not say/write it):
"We’re all a little weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutual weirdness and call it love." - Robert Fulgham, True LoveI think it's a generally optimistic film... leaving us with a rising sun in contrast to the sunset in the very first shot. We won't make all the right connections and often won't go about making them in the right way, and many times we'll even try to avoid them for some reason... but we continue to make them, feel a need for them and hope that some stick and provide a bit of happiness.
Many of us look for certain scenes to really stand out. I think the film definitely had a couple, but the most notable for me was Christine's and Richard's walk to their cars. This is one of the more important conversations, I think, as they compare their walk to a relationship. Each sees Tyrone St at a different distance, other people would likely see it differently than them. It encompassed the point of the movie in a well written, well shot, and well executed scene.
I've gone on quite a bit, so I won't dive into each separate story or other individual scenes yet. But there are definitely some interesting scenes, lines and characters. I expect there was a bit if discomfort from the chat room, signs in the window, and the park bench. I think those scenes all provided an intentional sense of awkward tension, but were handled well.
So, I'm sticking with my initial A- grade. Most components felt right and fit together well. I'm usually a fan of eccentric people and things, and this was no exception.