Written by Michel Gondry, Jeffrey Grimshaw and Paul Proch
Directed by Michel Gondry
Starring Michael Brodie and Teresa Lynn
Michael: Gut feelings suck.
Luis: Gut feelings suck my dick.
The first time I ever knew I was getting older was when I was waiting in line at a concession stand behind several teenagers. I couldn’t get over how loud they were, how insistent they were to be noticed and recognized. I found them infuriating and I thought to myself, I was never that bad when I was their age, was I? That’s when I knew. And now, Michel Gondry, has captured that familiar feeling of frustration on film, with his latest, THE WE AND THE I. Only Gondry’s version is worse because it all takes place on one singular bus ride.
THE WE AND THE I is an ambitious experiment in filmmaking that Gondry more or less pulls off with the tools he has at his disposal. Like all experiments though, some things go wrong. A bus full of Brooklyn high school students make their way home on the last day of school and square off with each other until the last students reach their stop. First of all, it takes so long to get all the kids off the bus that it actually goes from light to dark out, in June! I don’t know where these last few kids live but this was a stretch for me. Secondly, you wouldn’t know it was the last day of school unless they told you at the beginning, as none of the kids seem the least bit jubilant about it. And finally, all the kids in the film are naturally amateurs and, also naturally, some are better than others. Fortunately, none are so bad that it distracts from the film.
That’s what doesn’t work about the film. What does is actually pretty interesting. By forcing us to spend this much time in cramped quarters with these kids, they inevitably show their hands. As they all yell over each other and bully each other and blow things way out of proportion, THE WE AND THE I becomes akin to watching a nature documentary. They have no respect for others but they have even less respect, or understanding for that matter, for themselves. And, while I may have wanted to pull that bus over and throw them all off of it to start, I finished by feeling rather sorry for them. Maybe next time I am annoyed by teenagers in public, I will just go up to them and give them a hug instead of cursing them under my breath.