27 February 2006

Me, You, and Everyone We Know

What a fantastic movie.
There's something slightly surreal about this film. The colors are just a touch too bright, the characters just slightly exaggerated. If you were to isolate one character from the movie, and examine him/her, you could convince yourself that such a person exists, despite being a bit eccentric. But taken altogether, it's just slightly past the boundaries of the believable. Yet, it doesn't seem absurd, just mildly estranging. It gives the movie an interesting quality, not quite dream-like, but something else - perhaps one could say that it seems, self-consciously, to be a piece of art. Yet, it manages to do this without being pretentious, quite a feat, especially when one of your main characters is a performance artist.
The real charm of this movie is its use of estrangement turned towards tenderness. Throughout the film, there are scenes of acts which at first blush, seem disturbing - a small child having cyber-sex, a grown man propositioning teenage girls - sexual acts that are of a somewhat depraved nature, and would generally disgust the viewer. The amazing ability of this movie is to turn these acts into moments of truly moving tenderness, without white-washing their moral ambiguity. For instance, when a small child describes an extremely graphic and rather revolting sex act, he does it with such naive, innocent tenderness, that it does become something loving and beautiful, without losing the mildly disturbing undertone.
My only beef with the film was in the final scene, there was a moment of physical connection that seemed out of place in a film where love is so much focused on words. The real connections between people in this movie happen in shared fantasies, two people spinning a vision of the future together - physical touch seemed almost vulgar, in contrast, despite the fact that it was rather beautifully done.
I was, however, extremely impressed by the way that film managed to handle multiple strands of plot - I tend to get irritated with movies that follow the lives of 8 different characters, because they tend to do it in a clumsy fashion that flattens out most of the people and spends too much time revelling in its own clunky coincidences. This movie, however, handles the parallelism with grace, bringing the characters together, but allowing them to have their own lives.
All in all, a phenomenal movie.

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