I didn’t cry at all watching The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which seems to suggest that there’s something wrong with the film. Given my background I was sure that I would be a wreck the entire way through. But Desiree Akhavan is not interested in mining the story of young queer folks in enrolled in full time conversion therapy for the bleak, helpless, tragedy that many of those who suffered through such experiences describe it as. Instead we spend much of the time here looking at the moments that would help one survive it.
I read Walden first when I was a teenager and assumed that because it was written in this elaborate, if occasionally beautiful, way there must have been something insightful in there. You know, minimalism, simplicity, getting in touch with our roots. Society is square anyway, to hell with all the people who tell you what to do. This hermit knew how to live!
You expect children’s animated films to be a little sad don’t you? A little salt to balance out the sugar, enough melancholy to allow our spirits to be lifted later on. Nobody expects the death of Anna and Elsa’s parents to be the entire trade of Frozen, they’re just another dash of something in the stock before it’s reduced down to the actual plot.
The twist at the end of Tully comes pretty much as expected for anyone familiar with Diablo Cody’s body of work, it plays right her preoccupations as a creator. You know how people enjoy dismissing artists work by pointing out the themes that they enjoy exploring, reciting the trivia list of their IMDb page as though that amounts to substantive criticism. Whatever, Cody’s writing has always been intergenerational, the interesting part of her evolution is in where she chooses to lay the focus.
I guess if this were being produced a decade ago, you’d expect a comedy about a group of parents trying to stop their teenage girls from getting laid would be gross. Not in a normal sex comedy way but in a weird patriarchal way. I’m trying now to think about what else was going on a decade ago but female led comedies never really found their place in the Apatow family until Bridesmaids. Even then there’s a level of security that comes from Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer all being grown adults. Like we can trust them to not embarrass themselves because their messiness comes from a place of security.
I think You Were Never Really Here kinda holds up even better on the rewatch. Not to say that the first time viewing is bad in any way, but a mid-production budget cut the necessitated the excision of some fifteen pages of screenplay means that the sense of this adaptation is pushed within an inch of its life. There’s a late game revelation of the real villain of the piece that comes out sorta clunkily, split between some murmured exposition and an incredibly manipulative edit that the film has to then snap freeze for five minutes to allow some tone drama to play out.
There’s mess in the life of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson. Nothing quite adds up for her in the way it’s supposed to, or maybe she’s just getting the sums wrong. It’s telling in a way that the character is bad at maths and you ever really find out what she’s good at. Aside from making a scene, or trying to be about as alive as she can be in any given moment. Her impulses rarely serve her well but they’re hers.