Thursday, 12 November 2009

LEEDS FILM FEST REVIEW: Stay The Same Never Change

This was a REALLY odd film, and not at all how I expected it to be from reading the blurb in the LIFF programme:

“…featuring real people in their own real homes who have taken on the lives created for them by the director.”

I assumed we were either going to see a snapshot of someone’s life or they would speak about themselves, and then the director would come in and present them with a scenario/storyline or character to be, and then we would watch them take on that role and act it out, and see how they dealt with issues as they came up. But it wasn’t like that at all! It was one of those disillusioned suburban-America films, a type of misery memoir for the homemade video generation, following the lives of several characters – mainly teenage girls – who all live in the same neighbourhood, vaguely connected, but they are all beyond strange. One spends her time leaving monotone sympathetic voicemail messages on the phones of tornado victims, one is a super-emo obsessed with love and death, one girl is transfixed with going to the local races*, and the other has a boyfriend the shape of a life size blow up muscle man doll.  Is this them living out their real lives, or is it fiction? It is never clarified.

Usually for me, quirky pieces like this are enchanting and charming and really stand out as something to be admired and cherished, the way you love a cult film that no one else has heard of. But this was slow and dreary and didn’t seem to have a point to it. I did like the lack of melodrama, but it was almost comatose of drama at times. You began to just accept they were all a bit mental rather than actually being shocked or unsettled by their actions (an emotion the director was clearly seeking). I was actually nodding off towards the end of it – with so many long days and so many films to see, this was not a stand out to get me excited or inspired.

*or something like that – I didn’t quite catch it what it actually was. She just kept dressing up as a crocodile monster…

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