THE WE AND THE I Movie Review – GFF 2013
After the catastrophic disaster of his high-budget The Green Hornet adaptation, Michel Gondry strips everything back for his latest release The We And The I which follows a kaleidoscope of teenage characters on the bus ride home from their last day of school for the summer. In this restricted setting, Gondry captures the life of a modern urban high school from the social cliques that divide people to the unique friendships and romances that bring them together.
The We And The I falls somewhere between a traditional American indie like Do The Right Thing and a French New Wave film like Breathless. Gondry captures with authenticity the dialogue, the relationships and the lifestyle of teenagers in urban New York. It’s embedded, furthermore, with the filmmaker’s trademark playfulness that excellently gives weight to the film’s youthful vibe. Flashbacks are told via cell phone video footage, for instance, while other moments give way to a comic surrealism.
But what has always been the biggest criticism of Michel Gondry’s films is still on display in The We And The I: his decision to favor style over substance. Though it has an aesthetic, atmosphere and rhythm to die for, not to mention a great hip-hop soundtrack, this is a film that, in terms of drama, quickly grows thin. Neither the characters nor their stories are quite fascinating enough to carry The We And The I for all of its 103 minutes.
But while the story is somewhat lacking the young cast of first-time performers and Michel Gondry’s stylistic direction, nonetheless, make The We And The I a treat. It’s laden with charisma and magnetism as we watch these teens embark on their journey home, their relationships changing and evolving in a way that captures the humour, angst and pain of being adolescent. It’s an interesting and much needed step away from the mainstream for Gondry and will hopefully reinvigorate the mischievousness that made Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind such a breakout hit back in 2004.