directed and written by Miranda July
Well, I enjoyed it. Rather than being a plotted, event-oriented movie, this is essentially a collection of semi-interrelated vignettes that, toward the end, have some semi-interrelated payoffs. I enjoyed that aspect; in fact I found it inspiring: I feel like I could make a list of cute ideas, but I’m not as sure that I could construct a satisfying story arc, etc. The message I took away from this movie was “if the ideas are actually cute and you do a good job, that can be enough. At least it is in this case.”
My friends winced a bit whenever the sentimental-see-how-quirky manner would rise above a certain threshold, but I (to my own surprise) was never annoyed. While I agree that not all of the sentiment worked (the principal flaw in the movie was that the relationship between the two romantic leads wasn’t earned, so everything that followed between them inevitably seemed contrived), I never felt that I was being handled cynically, nor did I feel that the director had ever gotten too sidetracked by the self-involvement that usually goes hand-in-hand with quirkiness (and performance art, and starring in your own movie!). Miranda July was present at the screening, and afterward A’d a couple inane Qs from the audience. When someone asked her, ahem, why the dialogue had been so “random,” she said that it was how she tends to speak and that she had, perhaps through lack of discipline, made everyone talk like her. This seemed a sincere answer. When someone asked why she had made the movie, she said that “it’s fun to be in the world,” and making a movie is a great way of communicating about that on large scale. That also seemed sincere, and captured pretty accurately what the voice of the movie is. It was like listening to a friendly person talking about how magical and amusing they think life and human interaction can be, and even if you think this person chooses a somewhat flaky way of getting at her points, you can’t deny that she means what she’s saying and wants you to feel it too. Sincerity and feeling are very sympathetic, to me, so I was sold.
On the other hand, that’s probably because this was my first encounter with this person, Miranda July. If she came at me with another movie and it had more Shoe Goo and tinkly music in it, I might think, “well, okay, but let’s not forget about the ways in which this isn’t applicable to reality.” For now, I give her the benefit of the doubt that she hasn’t forgotten. The movie seemed to know exactly what it was. In the Q & A she also said something about how the movie was “a kind of unreal, which is sometimes the best way of getting at the real.” There’s a truth there and also a danger, but I felt like this movie stayed on the side of the truth.
And I laughed harder than I’ve laughed at a movie in a long time. On a related note let me observe that casting is everything and the movie is well-cast.