Joyride (2022)

Quick synopsis: Joy is on a journey to abandon her baby when the taxi she’s in is stolen by a teen in this coming-of-age comedy-drama.

Does Olivia Colman know she’s a star? She’s probably one of the best performers in the world right now, yet she’s still in films that people at a similar level would see as beneath them. She is so without ego that it’s actually impressive, and it can only be a good thing for filmmakers. I’m not sure I would have watched this if she wasn’t attached. I’m sort of glad I did. I mean, it’s not the greatest film in the world, but it’s not the worst. It’s a film that shows great potential for everybody involved. Neither the director (Emer Reynolds), the writer (Ailbhe Keogan), nor the male lead (Charlie Reid, playing Andrew) even has a Wikipedia page at the moment, but on the evidence of this, that should change for all three of them.

It is a fun script, but it could do with being both more subtle, and more in-your-face. Andrew is too good, he’s introduced stealing money, but it’s from his dad who stole it from a hospice collection, so Andrew is planning to return it. It means there’s no ambivalence toward him, you know he’s always going to do the right thing. So when, later in the film, he comes to a moral crossroads; chosing the right thing to do, and going back to his nefarious dad, you already know what he’s going to do so the moment doesn’t seem as powerful as it would otherwise. It’s supposed to be an ethical dilemma, but it never feels like one because the film hasn’t shown the chance of him going the other way.

On the subject of his dad, he’s supposed to be feared and violent, but we’re not really shown that. I’m not saying we need a scene of him smacking a kid, but it would have helped build him up. Also, he shouldn’t have been in it so much. If you keep him as an unseen threat, then, ironically, it would make him seem a bigger threat.

Now onto the good, it has some very good moments. Olivia Colman’s flashback is incredibly powerful. I also respect how well it uses time. The entire plot is kicked off within 4 minutes (that’s including the opening logos and credits). It moves at such a pace that while watching it, you’re never going to feel bored or look at your watch. There’s also a scene on a plane near the end which is genuinely hilarious and has some great one-shot characters.

In summary, I feel this is destined to be included in a “oh, you liked this film the director made? Well one of their earliest ones was Joyride” conversation. An early oddity in a future career of greatness.

Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)

Quick Synopsis: Chip and Dale are two animated friends who haven’t spoken to each other in years after their show was cancelled. When a former cast mate gets kidnapped they have to reunite to save him.

Oh boy, a live-action Disney remake of a beloved cartoon, premiered on Disney+, AND it’s full of cameos from other animated shows? Wow, this is going to suck. I mean, the last few things I watched which premiered on Disney+ were Artemis Fowl and Home Sweet Home Alone, and the last few films I watched where it was mainly about the cameos were Ralph Breaks The Internet and the new Space Jam. Added to that, I don’t think I ever watched Rescue Rangers growing up, so I’m not going to have a warm nostalgia towards it. So I’ll admit, I went in with a somewhat negative mindset, so it would take something special to overcome my preconceptions.

This is something special. I knew it would take something good to win me over, it won me over in the opening scene with this piece of dialogue:

“What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say Chip N Dale? I’m willing to bet it’s Thomas Chippendale, the london cabinet maker. I bet the second thing is these guys *shows the chippendale dancers*

The plot is pretty impressive too. The two characters were actors in the original series, and one of them now wants a reboot. It’s very meta, but really that’s just the backdrop for the main story: someone kidnapping animated characters, alter their appearance slightly with drugs, then ship them overseas to star in bootleg movies for the rest of their life. It’s really dark, kind of reminiscent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (who cameos in this). It also brings to mind The Lego Movie in terms of style of humour. It’s cynical, but in a weirdly optimistic way. It’s also full of references which you’ll love, so many unexpected characters and moments make it a real joy to watch.

That is possibly a downside too though. If you’re a 5-year old child, are you going to understand who a lot of these characters are? The film does a pretty good job on catching you up on who Chip N Dale are, but some of the other cameos are so in your face that if you don’t know them it may feel like you’re missing out.

The quality of the film is helped by the cast. Andy Samberg is quickly becoming a really dependable performer for comedic films, and he’s helped by John Mulaney’s more dour delivery. It’s also nice to hear Rachel Bloom in a large movie, albeit only briefly. There are not many live action performers, but of those who are there, KiKi Layne more than holds her own in what must be a difficult role (acting in a similar role drove Bob Hoskins nuts, and that’s a man who survived Super Mario intact). It never feels like she’s acting on her own, you always get the feeling she’s interacting with the animated characters. It’s a very natural performance and her characters enthusiasm for the franchise shines through in her performance.

So in summary, as much as I would have been expected to slate this, it’s really good and if you have disney+ you should definitely watch it soon. The hype train for this is coming, and you want to get on their early.

White Building (2021)

Quick Synopsis: A young man in Cambodia struggles to figure out what to do when his home is scheduled for demolition.

This is quite a slow film, almost glacial at the start. But it works, it makes the whole thing feel more slice of life documentary than a normal film. This feeling, that we’re observers of real life, is backed up by the music, well, the lack of it really. In the opening scenes, we see people dance, play football, and have conversations about girls. There’s no music at the forefront, it’s just people talking. That’s the best thing about this film, how it feels like we’re watching someone’s memories, it all feels very real. This is helped by the friendship in the opening section of the main three. The film does a great job of making you know they’ve known each other for a long time. There’s a genuine warmth to their relationship. You get the feeling this is a definitive period in the characters life. Like it should be backed by a “little did I know, that was the last time the old gang would hang out together, life sure was different after that” 80’s-style voiceover. That friendship is put on the backburner by the film when the plot about the building being knocked down starts (which doesn’t really kick off until thirty minutes in), at this point one of the friends moves away and is never really mentioned again. It’s then that the narrative focuses on one person, and becomes a lot more personal.

It’s a definite tonal shift, when the lead character (Samnang) is away from his friends it changes from something lighthearted and sweet, to something quite sad and hopeless. It stops being a story of friendship, focusing on what he has, and instead becomes a film about poverty and ill health, focusing on what he doesn’t have. He meets up again with one of his friends, but the vibe is different. Them riding around town has an increased air of melancholy about it. If the first section is them being in denial about losing their home, the second section is him realising it and coming to terms with it. You genuinely feel the panic everybody has. There’s a moment where they’re discussing the forced selling, and whether to accept the low offer they’re being offered (which isn’t enough to get a new place), or hold out for more. Someone off-handedly mentions that when this happened to another building, the residents were forced out at gunpoint and left with nothing. It’s something that is made all the more horrifying by how casually it’s mentioned and then glossed over. It’s not something that changes everybody’s mind, almost like they all knew it and accepted it.

On the downside, it is a little dull at points. This is definitely a very personal story (the director grew up in the building, and actually includes footage of the demolition at the end of the film), and that is a strength, but there are times where it feels a bit too personal, like he’s forgotten he’s telling this story to other people. Also, it feels like it assumes everybody knows about the history of the building, I read up on the building before watching, and it definitely helped explain a few things, things which the film probably should have. It not only would have made a few things clearer, but also would have made the building feel more like a character, so we get an emotional resonance when it “dies”. Characters drift in and out without reason.

So an interesting film, and a good one, but not a great one. One final thing, and I know it’s a weird thing to say about an actor who doesn’t even have a picture when you search on google, but Chinnaro Soem carries himself like a damn star in the few moments he’s in it. There’s a strange, almost James Dean quality to him and I want to see him in more.

The Phantom Of The Open (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Amateur golfer Maurice Flitcroft achieves his late-in-life goal of participating in the British Open Golf Championship, much to the ire of the staid golfing community.

Expected this to be either a standard sports underdog movie, or standard British Working Class, so either Cool Runnings, or The Duke. Either way, I knew what would happen, he’d be mocked by people, but then use his conventional skill set to win, or not win, but he’ll leave with his head held high and his nemesis slowly applauding him.

Yeah, it’s safe to say I lucked out by not knowing the true story about this, if I did then I would have known my preconceptions were complete bollocks. He doesn’t win, he doesn’t really do well, he isn’t respected by the world, and he isn’t rich and famous. To see how hard he tries, and what it leads to, will hurt you. Not as much as it should though. Don’t get me wrong, it does get VERY emotional towards the end, but it feels like it could have hit harder. His wife’s defence of him feels like it originally went on much longer and then was heavily cut down, it feels like it’s build-up, like she’s starting a wonderful speech, but then the film cuts her off, but still has the same result. It’s the emotional equivalent of if you did a film about Churchill, distilled his entire speech down to “We shall fight them at the beaches”, and then still having everybody applaud.

It’s a shame as that section of the film has some truly emotional moments, just a few sentences away from being better. The emotion is helped by the performances, Mark Rylance is his usual brilliant self, as is Sally Hawkins. Rhys Ifans seems a bit too similar to Michael Smiley and I felt for sure it actually was him until I saw the credits.

There are a few things that annoyed me though. There are a few characters who are introduced and then seemingly forgotten about. What annoyed me most though was the dream sequences. I don’t know whether they were the choice of the screenwriter or the director but tonally it does not work and they feel like they belong in a different movie. There are some character moments that feel a bit out of place, like they’re just happening to move the plot forward. It also doesn’t do too great a job of making you FEEL like you’re back in that time.

Overall, a film you probably will enjoy, but it won’t be among your favourites.

X (2022)

Quick synopsis: A group of people try to film a porn movie at a cabin belonging to an old couple, who strongly oppose the idea and decide to show their thoughts on the matter by writing a strongly worded letter to the local council. No wait, they murder them.

If you are thinking of watching this, go see it at the cinema. Not because it’s particularly great and you need to watch it immediately, but because the title means it’s going to be a bitch to find on a streaming site.

Let’s get one thing out of the way; this is not for everybody. It’s heavily focused on sex and violence, so unless you’re comfortable with both of those things, you won’t like this. It doesn’t shy away from the violence, and it doesn’t shy away from the sex. The whole thing feels slightly grubby, which is something that works in its favour. This isn’t a modern film, it’s a 70’s throwback in terms of style. It does work a lot of the time, and Ti West is a talented enough director that you never forget the time period that it’s set in. Now, as anybody who read my review of Censor knows, I love my throwback films. Especially when it comes to horror. And I don’t shy away from films about sex and killing people (I mean, one of those things is my favourite thing to do on weekends). I also like films about film-making, and am not afraid to see them going weird, as seen in Black Bear). So in some ways, this film was designed for me, yet I’m not that fond of it.

Part of that is because of how it sometimes utilises the throwback style in terms of film-making. The gimmick of “it’s edited like a 70s film” actually kind of gets in the way sometimes. There are far-away shots that don’t really tell us anything, and moments where it cuts to something for a second and then cuts back. It’s jarring, but not in a “horror movie making me feel unsettled” way, but in a way “this was edited manually and they botched it”. So it feels less like a throwback love letter to a genre, and more, just incredibly dated.

My main issue though? The same issue I have with a lot of modern horror films. The same issue I had with The Gallows, Unfriended, Don’t Breathe, Escape Room 2, Fantasy Island: I don’t like the characters. They’re annoying, selfish, not that likeable. So when they die, you’re not sad, or emotionally affected at all. If anything, you’re relieved.

The only slightly sympathetic character is one of the killers. She has a tragic backstory and her motivations do kind of make sense, although it’s never clarified exactly why that drives her to murder. She doesn’t get as much focus as the other characters though. The film spends so much time developing doomed characters, and not the location. At one point one of the characters finds the rotting corpses of a naked man in the basement, and someone else finds (presumably) his car in the lake (in a delightful shout-out to Psycho). Those things are glossed over really quickly. Was that person the only one? Or do they have a long history of this? The film comes close to answering this. One of the characters escaped the couple, and overheard them talking about throwing a body in the river. The actual ending of this is in the trailer, one of the cops finding a camera, “what’s on there?” “probably some fucked up horror movie”, END!

So, is she the reason the police are there? If so, why aren’t they draining the lake? If not, then why are they there? There are no houses nearby for people to have overheard the commotion. Really, they’re there to bookend the story, but it’s done quite poorly. Just full-on ape the ending of Psycho and show the car being retrieved, and then news footage of the discovery of bodies, to let us know this wasn’t a one-time thing, they’ve been doing it for years. I mean, think of the shot that ends From Dusk Till Dawn, where the camera pulls out and you realise the bar is not only built on an Aztec temple, but there are hundreds of vehicles there, all of them belonging to drivers who didn’t survive previous nights there. It’s not talked about often but it’s one of my favourite ending shots because it provides a history to everything, it shows that this has happened a lot before, and we’re just lucky enough to see the ending of a story that’s been being told for years. It hints at hundreds of untold stories just like the one we witnessed, only with unhappier endings. As opposed to this, which ends with nothing of substance.

I think it tried substance, there’s a preacher being shown on the television throughout, and at the end, it’s revealed that the main character is his daughter, who ran away to star in porn. A reveal that changes………..absolutely nothing. It doesn’t change what we think of her, or the situation, or anybody else in the film. It adds absolutely nothing outside of irrelevant backstory. It might as well have ended with “And that house where all the murders happened? It used to be a slave ranch”. It’s like, “yeah, and? Who gives a shit, that’s not relevant. Stop padding your word count”.

None of this takes away from the unarguable talent of everybody involved. Mia Goth continues to usually be the best thing in every film she stars in. Jenna Ortega has a great “final girl” quality (as anybody who watched the new Scream can testify), Martin Henderson has a strange, slightly Matthew McConaughey-esque quality to his performance.

So in summary? Maybe see this, some of you will like this a lot more than I did, and some of you won’t. It just wasn’t for me.

Médecin De Nuit aka The Night Doctor (2020)

Quick Synopsis: Mikaël (Vincent Macaigne) is a doctor on night call. He looks after patients from underprivileged neighbourhoods, as well as drug addicts. We see his nightly work as he’s torn between his wife and his mistress, and embroiled in trafficking fraudulent prescriptions.

The trailer had me excited. It looked like it was going to be incredibly intense and dark. And while watching it, I was on board. But the longer the film went on, the more my fondness for it dulled. It’s one of those films which you think is really good as you watch it and see it unfold, but after setting up all these narrative dominos, it seems to get bored and wander off, so it just leaves you feeling unsatisfied. It’s a shame as there are some great performances in here, and some incredibly tense moments. But overall a lot of it feels inconsequential.

I know this sounds cheap and goes against my usual “all about the narrative” viewpoint. But this needed a gimmick. Maybe it would have worked if it was done as a one-shot, as that would have shown the chaos he’s going through, and his panicking would have seemed real. But considering how much driving is in this that would have been difficult. The best bet would have been to have it like Locke, all take place in real-time. Most of the conversations with his wife could have been done over the phone. as could his dilemma with the mistress and cousin. It’s hard to love this film knowing that if they did it another way it would have been SOOOO much better. The character in this is supposed to be panicking and feeling trapped, but we never really get that. We never feel much emotion for him and his troubles, we just feel like an observer. It’s not helped by the fact that the longer the film goes on, the less you buy him as a character. He overpowers seasoned drug dealers too easily and at times it feels like self-insert fanfiction. The only person he doesn’t seem to easily physically overpower is his cousin, he goes from “quickly punching people in the face and taking them out ” to “awkward grabbing”.

That moment comes just after he had a fight with notorious drug lord Ossip, who is one of those characters who is supposed to linger over the entire film, but in reality, doesn’t. You don’t feel his presence looming over when he’s not on screen. He’s not built up as a danger. If we saw him executing somebody, then he’d feel more of a threat. As it is you don’t really get that “oh no, he has to do this or that drug lord will harm his family”. The film tries to fix this with the ending, but the way they do it seems cheap and is done purely to get the sympathy of the audience with the main character. That’s the issue the whole film has, by the way, it doesn’t know how to treat the main character. We’re supposed to sympathise with him, but he’s quite unsympathetic. But done in a way that constantly justifies all his bad decisions. It’s like the writers want to create a morally complex character, but want to ensure we still sympathise with him.

The Duke (2020)

Quick synopsis: In 1961, a 60-year-old taxi driver steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. He sends ransom notes saying that he will return the painting if the government invests more in care for the elderly.

This is pretty much exactly what you expect it to be. It’s not going to top any end of year lists, but when it inevitably gets shown on TV over Christmas and you need something to watch with family while eating cheese, you’ll put it on. It’s incredibly inoffensive, but with great dialogue that will make you laugh. The characters are all incredible likeable and charming, and all with regional accents. It’s reassuringly touching and nice, with great performances all around. Really it’s the kind of film you could imagine being remade as a touring musical. It’s really hard to actively dislike.

But on the other hand, it’s hard to love. Yes, you’ll enjoy it. You’ll laugh, you’ll feel things, and it won’t be time wasted. But when you walk past it in a DVD shop, there will be no part of you that considers buying it. Even in a charity shop where it’s on sale for 50p, the option of buying it will not be one that enters your head. In a few years, you won’t remember that much about it outside of basic details.

The performances are all pretty damn good. There’s not really a weak link among them. Even those who are only in a few scenes do it perfectly. Most of the focus has been on Jim Broadbent, but Fionn Whitehead deserves plaudits too. His character could be a slimy pitiful character, but he’s played with so much earnestness and conviction that even he is doing slightly cowardly stuff, you root for him. I’ve seen him in one of the best episodes of Inside No. 9, and if he continues then he has a very bright future.

I’ve been somewhat critical of this film, but here is one thing it does phenomenally, and I can’t really talk about it without spoiling it. I know normally my approach to spoilers is “whatever”, but I do have a consistent logic to it all: if knowing what happens harms the viewing experience significantly, I don’t do it. And knowing the plot points for this will ruin it slightly. For the final third it takes an approach I genuinely didn’t expect. I can’t remember being that genuinely surprised by something I’ve seen in a long time. When it gets to the end of the year I will talk about it specifically, by whilst it’s on at the cinema I will refrain. The adverts did a marvellous job of concealing it.

Ninjababy (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Rakel is shocked to find out that she’s 6 and a half months pregnant in this strange but wonderful Norwegian comedy drama.

Try to think of what film this could be based on that title. It’s actually a strange coming-of-age drama. The closest I’ve seen to it would be Juno, but tonally it’s different. That was quite twee and cute, this has more of a punk and comic-book energy. If they were people, Juno would sit there and read Jean-Paul Sartre, Ninjababy would be reading Persepolis.

Everything about it works well. Almost, the music seems a little wrong. I kind of want to watch this in Norway as it feels like the music was changed for the international release to be a bit more commercial. There are some moments where it works, but otherwise, it just seems like “generic pop song #52” over the soundtrack.

Kristine Thorp is wonderful in the lead role. It helps that she’s incredibly well written. It would be easy to make this character unlikeable. To have the audience reaction be “ffs just sort your life out for once” and think of her as someone who put herself in the situation by being irresponsible. She’s written well enough that you are with her every step of the way. Helped by her performance too, her facial expressions when she finds out she was 6 months pregnant, not 8 weeks, is devastating. She looks terrified, responding “take those fucking pills and shove them up the pill hole”. I have never seen Thorp in anything before, but has some of the best visual acting I’ve seen in a long time. At times cartoonish and exaggerated, at times subtle and realistic. She’s perfect for this, and without her this film would not have the heart that it does.

You wouldn’t expect a scene of someone shouting “Blood and suffering!” would be as heartwarming as it is when it’s done in this. I have no way of leading into that sentence, and no way of coming out of it, but I felt it needed mentioning.

Antlers (2021)

Quick Synopsis: A small-town Oregon teacher and her brother, the local sheriff, discover that a young student is harbouring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences.

I did not enjoy this film. Normally I like to build up to a natural conclusion before arriving at sentences like that. But I don’t want to lure you into a false sense of security with this review for this. It was an incredibly frustrating experience. Part of that is that it felt like it was doing too much, well attempting to anyway. Horror films are best when the core message is simple: Don’t have sex, he’ll break your necks. Give a hoot, don’t pollute or else you’ll be shoot. You know, simple stuff. This? Is it like a rural zombie movie? Is it an environmental film? The fact the film makes a point to have a radio news broadcaster point out local environmental issues would lead you to think that. Maybe it’s about First Nation myths and legends? Or is it even about family abuse? The truth is it’s about all of them, but because it’s only 99 minutes that means it’s also about none of them as nothing has time to develop itself. It stretches itself way too thin.

It feels mostly it’s trying to be a film about a Wendigo, a legendary figure in Algonquin culture. In the myths and legends it’s a spirit that possesses humans and gives them an incredible thirst for human flesh and murder. We’re told this in passing by a “local Native American”, who turns up, tells this story, and then is never really heard from again. His entire character is to pass on information, be the “magical native” teaching them. So they’re using First Nation mythology, and have a First Nation character as an exposition dump because the film feels it’s more important to focus on the white people in the film. On the plus side, they did actually case a First Nations actor to play the part, but the fact he’s just there to give on information feels a little weak.

Going to go into the lore of the Wendigo now, this really has nothing to do with the film itself and won’t change your mind about it, but I feel it’s something that is useful to know about. Now there are slight variations among the different myths. For Naskapi people, for example, it’s a giant that grows in proportion to whatever it just ate, so it can never be full, whereas in some it takes over a human and provides urges in them. But there are two main differences in the original lore, and how it’s presented in this film, one of which is more a thematic or visual choice, and one which is the entire visual aesthetics of the movie. The first one: it has a heart of ice. Now in this film the final battle ends when the main character cuts out the beasts heart, where it’s glowing orange and burns to the touch. Which is basically the opposite. For Western comparison it would be like if someone did a film about Jesus and they had him drown by walking into water. The second one is one you can’t ignore, antlers. Yup, the films title is based on an aspect of the myth that does not appear at all in the original indigenous stories. It’s weird as there other aspects of the legend that it gets spot on: the drapings of skin and bone in the final form, the original form being an almost transparent white with the bones visible under the skin. It is mainly the heart being fire not ice, and the antlers, which are the modern parts. But the film isn’t called “Long claws” is it? It’s Antlers. It’s focused on a part not in the original.

So yeah it uses First Nation stories but rewrites them for their own purposes, it’s quite weird. And it doesn’t even work to make the film good as it’s still a bad watch. But it is indicative of the lack of care and thought that’s gone into it. Scott Cooper directed this and he’s normally done crime dramas (Black Mass, Hostiles etc) so this is new ground for him. He actually did a good job though. The use of shadow and scale is great to watch and provided the main highlights of this film. His talent shows that there is a way to film someone just walking through a tunnel, and have it be visually impressive and use the difference in size of him and the impending shadows to tell us details about the character. The script is the main part that lets it down. It’s incredibly on the nose at points, but then also weirdly lacking in others. Do you ever watch a film adaptation of a book and feel lost because something important has been lost in the translation from book to screen? Like they missed out a plot point that actually explains the whole thing? That’s what this feels like. Like I napped at some points and wondered why certain people were doing certain things and not taking the obvious steps.

I should commend the performances I suppose. Keri Russell does what she needs to, never really astounds you but never makes you cringe. Jeremy T.Thomas is probably the best performer, providing a haunting energy to his performance. I feel mean picking on child actors but the kid who plays Clint is just annoying. In wrestling parlance, there are two types of hatred or “heat” a character can have with an audience. There’s standard heat, where the audience thinks “I dislike this character and hope they get their comeuppance”. That’s normal, that’s what you should have. And then there’s “go-away heat” (also known as X-Pac heat after a particularly disliked wrestler from the late 90’s). This is the worst. It’s something that can best be summed up with this:

Basically, it’s where the audience doesn’t hate you in a way that they will pay to see you be defeated, they hate you in a way that they turn off the channel. That’s how annoying this kids performance is. It’s not helped by how 2-dimensional his character is.

So, in summary, I would not recommend this film. It had to be legally shown in cinema due to contractual obligations stopping it from being allowed to be premiered on screening services. I wish I knew that before, I would have waited, or avoided it.

The Nowhere Inn (2020)

Quick Synopsis: Annie Clark (a.k.a St. Vincent) is having a documentary made about her by her friend Carrie (best known from Sleater-Kinney) and is asked to disappear into her alter-ego to make the film more interesting in this mockumentary/concert film.

This was an interesting idea. I like mockumentaries, and like them even more if they’re not comedies. If they go dark, even better. Also, I love the music of St. Vincent so this should be ideal for me.

A strange film that makes no sense, but in a way the fact it makes no sense makes perfect sense. I was all ready to talk about how it should have been less creepy at the start. About how it should have fooled you into thinking it was just a standard documentary about St. Vincent before hitting you with the weirdness. That would make sense from a film-making perspective to lure people in. But then I thought about it, they allude to the fact that this has been edited and made from what they captured for the documentary, and if the events actually happened to this character and they wanted to tell people about it, they would lead with the weirdness wouldn’t they? Plus, by the end, Annie Clark has morphed into her alter-ego of St. Vincent so she would see no problem with exposing the weirdness of herself.

For the first half of this film, I was fully on board with what they were doing. I was interested and wanted to see what happened. But then it got a bit “too” weird and it became more about the weirdness than the narrative. Now I like weird, but what I will always love is a good story, well told. And this film is so focused on becoming a weird experience that it is lacking the storytelling aspect of it in the second half where it just becomes almost like a student art film.

It started to lose me when the St. Vincent character started to take over. The personality shift is a bit too jarring. She goes from 1-100 way too quickly when it should have been gradual. One minute she’s giving free tickets to someone because she is too awkward to say no, and the next she’s making a sex tape with Dakota Johnson. The aforementioned scene with the free tickets is delightfully awkward though, the interviewer getting her to apologise to her girlfriend for her. It’s delightfully awkward and helps tell you a lot about the character.

Might be a weird thing to state about a mockumentary, but it feels like it lacks truth. It’s like they wanted to delve deep, perform an emotional autopsy, but then shied away at the last second. Like there are times where it feels like the film is just a way for the actors to really discover who they are as people and do an emotional deep dive on themselves, really exploring their personalities. But when it comes close to really exploring who they are, it decides not to.

On the plus side, the performances are perfect throughout to the point where there are times you forget you’re not actually watching a documentary. The characters aren’t quite perfect though. Both characters feel incredibly selfish and stupid in how they react to each other. There are two scenes that follow each other, one is where Annie is hosting an obviously fake scene for the documentary. Carrie then derides that for being too fake, and then takes her to go see her father in prison “so I can get real emotion from you”. Just makes them seem incredibly self-involved and selfish.

If you are a massive fan of the artist you may get more out of this, but if you’re going in not knowing too much then it might feel lacking. You probably will love the music though.