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quietearth [Celluloid 03.27.09] movie review drama experimental

Year: 2009
Release date: Unknown
Directors: Ry Russo-Young
Writers: Ry Russo-Young & Stella Schnabel
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: quietearth
Rating: 3 out of 10

[Editor's note: YWMM premiered at Sundance and just played SXSW]

Without the kaleidoscopic input and non-linear meanderings, I would call this nothing more than arthouse fluff. Set in an environment of red toilets and signed campbell soup cans, this would probably do well, but all of the things which made it really interesting like the flashbacks, different camera experimentation, and inner dialog filled with explanation (or rationalisation) took a backseat to the linear portion of the storyline. The cacophony, the experimental noise I would call the "dream state". was the good part.

Director Ry Russo-Young makes films in the "mumblecore" genre. For those who don't know what mumblecore is, wikipedia defines it as: "primarily characterized by ultra-low budget production (often employing digital video cameras), focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, improvised scripts, and non-professional actors". The actual storyline (outside the dream states) falls under this definition, which is why large chunks of the film were simply unenjoyable.

The first scene, that of the main character Shelly talking with her Doctor in the nuthouse who was off screen, was telling. It related all that was to come, not in specifics, but in idea. The main component of the film was our protagonist, almost always in some social situation, done in mumblecore style. As unprofessional actors, there was an awkwardness to their interactions, a stuttering or uncertainty which made watching these portions quite annoying. These situations ranged from having one night stands, arguing with friends, to going on auditions. This was the core of Shelly's life as told by the camera, random pieces which related an unhealthy lifestyle.

Within this narrative, which I found lackluster and frustrating, were the inner workings of Shelly's own mind, elucidated by a slew of different camera work and styles: grainy, highly saturated, even that of a cellphone. This subjective scrutiny was the enjoyable portion of the film. One piece, intercut throughout the entire flick, was Shelly on the back of a motorcycle, hanging on tight and looking alternately lost, absent, and suddenly conscious. This seems to be the metaphor for how she lived, as if she was not in control, a bumper kart to her emotions and without a clue what was going on.

Again I have to say, if the mumblecore portion had been thrown out and replaced by an actual dramatic narrative, this could have been one heck of a film. But unfortunately, it will end up lost in a stack of serious arthouse fare, running the fest circuit for a short period and then becoming lost. I'll bet it doesn't even find distribution, but I do know one thing, Ry Russo-Young is talented, she just needs to scrap part of her style. In the end I can't recommend it, but I'd definitely keep an eye on the director.

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Hot Fuzz (11 years ago) Reply

"Set in an environment of red toilets and signed campbell soup cans, this would probably do well" .. haha, nice.

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