In 2007 Sight & Sound began compiling review/best of the year-lists which with the exception of the year 2008 have been…
The We and the I
The We and the I is the heartfelt and comical story of the final bus ride home for a group of young high school students and graduates.
Film #32 in The June Challenge
Michel Gondry's latest film is definitely an interesting piece, but I didn't particularly enjoy it. The film is interesting for its usage of one location throughout, and the setting feels very dynamic and mobile (since it's on a bus) so it never gets boring. The film also has a lot of Gondry's style, with humorously minimal stop-motion effects, technically interesting in-camera split-screens, and diegetic inter-titles.
My problem with the film stems from the fact that I didn't like any of the characters. Everyone on the bus was a complete cunt, and they pretty much all embodied the stereotypical asshole teenager archetype. When a character smashes a guy's guitar for no reason, it puts me…
The first time I ever walked out of a movie.
The We and the I showed promise as perhaps Michel Gondry's only venture into realism, and perhaps a return to form after a few rather misteps.
A story about teens, who are taking the bus from school for the final time after they are off for summer.
But The We and the I does have the usual Gondry style, and it is not a return to form for the director.
While I applaud Gondry's decision to use non-professional actors in the film, and in fact might using their real life stories on which he based the story (all the characters' names are their real names), yet it is clear they lack any acting skills.
While some actors are better than…
Realistic asshole high school kids on public transit maintain believability moment-to-moment on the longest sustained ride since maybe The Incident; no hostages are taken, but everyone's captive to the whims of the mean kids at the back. Gondry switching between Young MC and Boards of Canada depending on his mood; both fit. The last kid on the bus is a charismatic bully, and the message is essentially the same as The Science Of Sleep: personal vulnerabilities aren't an excuse for consistently behaving badly. A pretty accurate time capsule of a certain kind of public transit experience; final twist overreaches emotionally, but another strong Gondry movie about primarily negative emotions.
Strange festival this has been. While Harmony Korine has been doing his best Malick impersonation, tone poem style, Michel Gondry does his best Korine impersonation rebooting KIds for the twenty-first century. The story consists of a Brooklyn bus ride on the last day of school as characters come on and off and wrestle with the dilemma of being a We or an I along the way. I would not of thought this goofy guy from France had this caliber of Brooklyn-verite in him, but damn if he doesn't pull it off. There are Gondryesque flourishes, mostly in the reimaginings of anecdotes told on the bus, and there are a lot of laughs along the way, and a retro feel courtesy…
Obvious comparisons for the structure of The We and the I include Dazed and Confused, La haine, and Do the Right Thing. They're set within their respective neighborhoods, flavored with the alternative music of the period, with plots that carry us through the events of a single day. The We and the I condenses that formula to one long city bus ride, but instead of giving us the music of the period (circa 2010), we get late 80's/early 90's classic hip hop hits from Slick Rick, Young MC, and Big Daddy Kane.
This anachronism should be our first hint that Gondry doesn't mean to provide a 1-to-1 recreation of adolescence in the Bronx. Rather, the content is filtered through what…
I guess it was too much to ask to for a continuation of the directional excellence of "Eternal Sunshine..." - especially after throwing in all of the kitchen sinks with "...Sleep" and "Be Kind...". But Gondry has seemed to have abandoned his love for mechanically building fantastic artistic imagery with his hands and trick-shotting it onto film.
Gondry has gone the straight-ahead storytelling route with this one. A shot of teenagers on their last day of high school, on a bus trip home, that's for some reason long enough to end at sundown.
At first, I wasn't feeling it. It felt cinéma vérité like Korine's "Kids" - where I'm watching asshole kids do asshole things. Shitting on their friends, picking…
That this movie exists at all is something of a miracle. It's an oxymoron: a great movie by and about high schoolers. Apparently Michel Gondry worked with these kids for three years to write and film this movie, and the effort certainly shows. But Gondry's influence is only really apparent in the creative and characteristic cinematography choices. The themes, storylines, and character arcs are all too fresh and real to come from an experienced art filmmaker. Getting genuinely representational stories from inner-city multiracial youth has to be something of a holy grail for activist filmmakers. The problem is that no high schoolers anywhere could actually make a film this good.
But these kids did it. They have a few rough…
Addled monsters have feelings too.
The kind of movie you either will like or you won't. I liked it quite a bit for what Michel Gondry was experimenting with, which was a cinema that is both very real and yet fantastic at the same time; when the kids tell their stories, be they funny, dramatic, sad, strange, it carries those qualities Gondry can bring to elevate the material through his grungy-magical (is that a term? I just made it up so there) aesthetic. When we see the teenagers driving a beat-up old car, it's shot to look a little warped as if from a camera phone, but not just any phone.
This isn't reality TV. It's writing and filmmaking and while you won't get stellar…
In “The We and the I,” a group of high school students take the bus home on the last day of school in the Bronx. So, while the movie nails the experience of being trapped on a bus full of rambunctious teenagers, writer-director Michel Gondry is not able to separate any of the storylines well enough for any of them to stand on their own. Nor does he really have much idea how traffic really and slowly works in New York City. As the movie takes place apparently in real time, with such unusually little traffic with the exception of an unrelated accident, it would not have been surprising if the passengers had ended up halfway to New Haven by the conclusion which might have made for an intriguing finale.
On the last day of school, a group of teenagers experience petty jealousies, bullying, and sexual insecurities. In other words, it's a typical day for an adolescent finding their way in the world.
The problem is, I didn't care about any of the characters. Most of them were broad stereotypes or obvious subversions of stereotypes, like the tough black boy who's actually a sensitive artist.
Eight years after giving us the wildly creative Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Michael Gondry inexplicably gives us this uninspired waste of time which can't figure out what it wants to say, so it decides to say everything at once, on one bus ride.
I'm very grateful that this group of kids wasn't on my 11-hour flight to Cannes.
Michel Gondry's film offers an interesting idea. A group of teenagers who "workshopped" the idea of playing variations of themselves on a bus ride on the last day of school thru the Bronx.
It has its share of moments. Sometimes funny, sometimes a bit sad and aching to give voice to young adults who are often denied the opportunity.
But something about it never fully comes together. It sort of feels like Gondry is so focused on getting past stereotyping that it ends up working in opposition to that core goal.
UPDATE: I can't add any more titles (it's actually a limit set by Letterboxd). I may create another list to…