Tim Burnham’s review published on Letterboxd:
Permanence and impermanence. Youth, adulthood, the sticky intermingling.
My first visit to the New Beverly was a double feature of this and Fish Tank. Which is a rough pairing. Because this film is so quirky and delightful and singularly exciting. And Fish Tank is so raw and upsetting and rough to watch. But putting the films side by side made a certain kind of sense.
Fish Tank is about children playing at adulthood. And this film is presented almost as adults playing at childhood. Miranda July creates a specific world with its own internal, almost dream logic in which the adults almost act as impulsive, uninhibited, but confused children, while the children are solemn, mature, and quietly put together.
The film begins with a father setting his hand on fire as a way of ritualizing his separation from the children’s mother so that it will be meaningful and memorable to them. Meanwhile, those children spend their time talking to someone in a chat room. There’s an obviously lascivious element but the kids don’t really seem to be chasing anything in particular but are drawn to the conversation as just a normal thing they have to do and continue. Then, we have a visual artist working on her demo reel that she approaches with the sincerity and abandonment of the weird girl in elementary school. Her approach of a boy she likes plays out similarly.
Miranda July shows us how hard it is to be here, in this world. How lonely it is. How we insist on pushing forward, often alone, and how we put such importance and meaning upon meaningless things, all to just feel like somethings working or leading somewhere. This film is about time and love and human nature and how foolish and giddy and upsetting and odd it all is. And she tells us this story and shows us these things in a way no one else ever could.
Largely, July’s debut feels akin to the introductory works of Waititi, W.Anderson, and Jonze. There’s a clear and unique voice here, playing by its own rules, evoking its own rhythm, and creating its own singular filmic experience. This might be my favourite film I’ve seen in 2019.