Monday, April 23, 2012
Frustration, Annoyance, Anger.
Director: Mark Pellington
Written by: Glenn Porter
Starring: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino, Tom Bower, Arielle Kebbel, Zander Eckhouse, Abhi Sinha, Sasha Grey.
Running time: 117 min.
Even though I had heard bad things about it, and most people wouldn't even bother with it, I was extremely excited to see I Melt with You. The trailer really piqued my interest. I actually have a penchant for watching masculine movies where all they do is get drunk and high. The thing with I Melt with You is that it looked like an indie/arthouse film - not the best example of that genre, but exactly the kind that I'd like. The excitement that I had at the start turned into frustration, which in the end turned into intense anger. And I've been unable to shake that intense anger for the past couple of days.
Now, I'm going to discuss some important plot points in this one, so steer clear if you hold some interest in seeing the film. Chances are, you never heard of it until I brought it up. I need to vent about this film, so read at your own risk - but I doubt any of you are amping to see it (and there may be a bit of cursing. It is a movie that demands it).
The film starts by introducing the four characters, all in their 44th year of living: Richard (Thomas Jane), who once wrote a book, but lost his vibe so now he teaches at high school; Ron (Jeremy Piven), who is having some money troubles and is probably going to face jail time; Jonathan (Rob Lowe), a doctor who is suffering the sadness of being apart from his son; and Tim (Christian McKay), an open bisexual who was living in a relationship with a man and a woman until he caused the fatal car crash that killed them both. They go out to a holiday house to get away from their lives, living on the drugs that Jonathan supplies for them. For the first hour of the film, they drink, they party, they smoke, they are high (well, they're all pretty high for the entire film). I'm pretty sure the actors were putting themselves in their characters shoes literally, because they were doing a pretty bloody good impression of being completely off their face. Through this hour, you hear a lot of bonding stories about how shit these guy's lives are, which are pretty heavy-handed. But at the hour mark, those attempts at giving off a dark tone is nothing compared to what the next hour has in store. Tim commits suicide by hanging himself in the shower. Of course, this would be a sad situation, but his three friends find out the true reasoning behind what he did: if they found their lives unfulfilled by age 44, they would all kill themselves. They had all forgotten about the fact that they had written that pact at age 19, except Tim, who gets the ball rolling, for lack of a better phrase.
Tim was certainly the most angsty of the four, but he was the only character that I had an inch of respect for, which is why the next half of the film struggled to make any sense to me at all. First of all, this suicide pact seems like a load of bullshit. Who would remember that? The fact that Tim was the first to go and the only to remember made sense, but the fact that all of his friends would go through with it was a little strange, since they were all so distant. Ron was one of the ones who I thought had the most reason to die, yet, he shouldn't have taken such an easy road out, considering the baggage he was carrying with him. Jonathan was a character who was neither here nor there. But typically, they had to leave Richard, the most annoying, vile character in the film until last. The thing he says right at the very end of the film is also one of the most annoying, vile things I've heard in a film. It was interesting to think about the morality behind suicide and the selfish conscience of the human condition, but the film never brings this to the fore. The characters all have their confused thoughts about what they're going to do, yet they all seem to be perfectly fine with being selfish morons (again, for lack of a better phrase) who actually need to grow up and face the music. Maybe I'm too young to understand what they were going on about, but I'm fairly sure it is near impossible to relate with any of them.
It's an absurd story that wants to be taken seriously, so it goes extremely dark. By doing that, it goes so dark that it ventures into self-parody and it just keeps getting more and more ludicrous. Despite all of it's short comings, I Melt with You has stuck in my mind because I know exactly what it was trying to be, but the results were just mind-bendingly bad. It is extremely well made, if a little over-styled (it was made by a former music video director, so that's what you could expect). There is some gorgeous cinematography, making use of the largely empty landscape that they have chosen to end their lives in. What it reminded me of was an anti-The Tree of Life. Scenes are chopped and changed, trying to find artistic meaning in the direction and the art direction, dialogue trying to be poetic. Yet, instead of being a film looking at the meaning of life, it looks at the meaning of death. And being selfish. And hating everything around you. Which is something that I like to see in small doses, but I was too fragile to be punched in the face 500 times (I'm not even sure if that could be classed as a metaphor). It is the most polarizing thing that most people have never seen.
Such a shame. Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe and Christian McKay (who was amazing in Me and Orson Welles, and should definitely be in more movies) all pull in really solid performances. The film just never amounts to anything, apart from four dead people, of course.
As I said to my friend after I watched it: "It was one fucked up movie, and when I say fucked up I mean really fucked up, that can only be described using the word 'fuck'." And that's what I am going to think every time I see this film sitting on the shelf at Blockbuster. Mixed in with the horrible feeling of disappointment that I subjected myself to being excited for this.
What I got: