Saturday, October 5, 2013

The We and The I [DVD]

Director Michel Gondry is mostly know for his heady, comedic films with cunning in-camera effects such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind & The Science of Sleep and innovative music videos from Bj√∂rk, Beck and the White Stripes. In The We and the I, Gondry scales back and tells a story via a bus ride through the Bronx. The French director workshopped this script with a group of teens over the course of three years and the result is this wonderful film.

We see the complex dynamics of high school relationships as we join a group of students after their last day of classes. There's bullying, gossip, swagger, flirting, fighting, some genuinely funny conversations and many heartfelt moments, too. Throughout, the dialog is natural; we almost feel as though we're watching a a documentary at times.

Despite this austere approach to filmmaking, Gondry's presence is still felt with the occasional use of non-digital effects. A small boombox shaped bus rides around town at the intro. Later, we see an interesting scene where he superimposes a pizza shop directly through the window of the city bus. These moments perfectly interject surrealism and introduce lightness into this very realistic movie.

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