The We and The I (2012) – Michael Gondry

Micahel Gondry films always seem to garner attention, since Eternal Sunshine On the Spotless Mind people have been following him and wondering what’s next. There was The Science of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind and then, well The Green Hornet.

So when I first saw the trailer for his new film, The We and The I, I was a little intrigued. The premise is simple. It’s the last day of school and a group of kids are on their bus ride home and it’s about the relationships that fall apart, the ones that begin and the folks who fall between the cracks.

Now, I can’t say I liked the film.

None of the characters we meet vaguely interested me, and I couldn’t believe that this is the state of youth in America. Yes, I know it was a scripted film, but it feels almost documentary-like in nature.

But I think that’s kind of the point, both in the character types and the documentary nature of the film.

The bus is full with kids at the beginning of the film, all of them trying to be cooler than everyone else, all of them more than happy to take shots and dish out increasingly snide remarks at one another. Even so-called friends aren’t immune as the trio at the back of the bus led by Michael (Michael Brodie) begin sniping back and forth at one another, exposing one another’s emotions to simply belittle them and tear one another down.

It’s hard to empathize or like these characters, they’re all so self-involved, but isn’t that how most teens are. Laidychen (Laidychen Carrasco) seems to need to be the center of attention all the time, Big T (Jonathan Scott Worrell) is a bit of a tool who enjoys upsetting some of the other passengers on the bus, especially an elderly woman who eventually gives as good as she gets, Teresa (Teresa Lynn) left the school for 3 weeks and came back on the last day to see someone, only to have everything ripped apart… They’re all just a shining beacon of everything that seems to be wrong with the system right now.

So it can be a tough watch.

The We and The I Teresa Rivera (L)  Michael Brodie (R) web

But I think that is also the point. It’s not a feel-good look-how-much-fun-we-can-have-we’re-teenagers kind of movie. There is something seriously flawed and broken with all of them.

As the bus is emptied, it also strips away the tougher layers of those who remain on for the ride home.

Layers are peeled back, grievances are aired, crushes are outed, people are rejected.

Until finally when two teens are left, Michael and Teresa, both of them gaping wounds of hurt, and neither able to actually ask one another for help because of the nature of their teen society, try to deal with one last stab at their own mortality.

It’s hard to watch a film where there’s no one you can root for, no one you can completely empathize with, when the audience doesn’t have a character-in. We’re simply left as observers as we watch the way this micro-cosm of young society behaves and acts towards one another, and all you can do is sit, watch, wait for your final stop, and hope that they come to their senses before the bus reaches the end of its route.

The We and The I opens at the Toronto Lightbox today…

Will you be seeing it? What did you think of it?

the_we_and_i_directors_fortnight

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