The We and the I
Michel Gondry shows his imagination is alive and well in his latest drama
French director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) gives the single-location movie a funky twist with this authentically over-the-top slice of Bronx life, following the long, loud journey of a local New York bus, loaded with high school students fresh out of class and heading home for the summer.
With a cast of non-professional actors, each bringing their personalities and experiences to the film’s improvised storylines, and the majority of shooting done in just one day, the film positively crackles with energy and life. It’s raucous, profanity-laden and most often very funny, as the youngsters capture all the self-aggrandising, inconstancy, name-calling and passion that erupts in any tightly-packed group of teenagers.
It’s a far cry from Gondry’s recent big-budget comic-book adaptation The Green Hornet (2011), which was fun but largely unloved; The We and the I should reassure fans who felt Gondry’s unique style was somewhat dampened by that film’s glossy surfaces. In fact, as this film develops and its title’s meaning becomes clear – it’s about individuals and communities – it seems that Gondry is picking up on themes that first interested him in his 2008 comedy Be Kind Rewind. That was another look at one of the myriad communities that make up New York, but where it dwelled on the uniting powers of old technologies (videos and analogue cameras), The We and the I is explicitly about digital connections; one recurring and very funny gag involves a video that is shared across the kids’ many and various mobile devices, while another strand of the story concerns a key character pretending to be someone else on Instant Messenger. What’s clear is that Gondry’s imagination is fully alive to the stories playing out in our culture, and he’s happily finding new ways to retell them.
The We and I screened at Glasgow Film Festival.