Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: John Hawkes, Miranda July, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff
Director: Miranda July
This US indie art flick, written, directed by and starring performance artist Miranda July, brings together a combination of performance art and narrative, but unfortunately its basic premise left me cold.
July, a kind of curly haired cross between Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emily Watson, plays performance artist Christine Jesperson, a driver for ‘Eldercab’. John Hawkes plays Richard, a salesman in a department store shoe shop who is separated from his wife and has two mixed-race kids Peter and Robbie. Both are complete misfits, unsure of how to communicate and feel isolated in the world. Christine lives on her own and has no family, communicating through her performance art, while Richard desperately and awkwardly tries to communicate with his kids, and with Christine after he meets her in the shoe store one day.
The characters in this film have that uncomfortable awkwardness and loneliness about them, in THE OFFICE-type way but without the wry humour and replaced more with sweetness.
Adding to the isolated and quirky set of characters are two school girls trying to cope with their burgeoning sexuality, with potential dangerous fraying edges, and Richard’s shoe store colleague, who leads them on.
Richard’s kids are also desperately trying to discover their place in the world, as well as their place in family life, which leads the young and vulnerable Robbie into dangerous territory.
Perhaps I just didn’t engage in July’s performance art, and this film also pushed boundaries that I felt slightly uncomfortable with, although the modern dangers that it was trying to symbolise were clear. There were sweet moments, but there was something curiously detaching about this film that left me unable to engage with it, and left me deeply unsatisfied.