The We and the I Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 24, 2012
The kind of outspoken and honest portrait of youth that is extremely efficient with the use of non-professional actors and a loose storytelling, rambling on from one casual talk to another while always keeping our full interest in the flesh-and-bone characters.
Super Reviewer
September 27, 2012
âThe We and the Iâ? is not as memorable as Michel Gondry's more popular works, âEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindâ? and âThe Science of Sleep.â? It comes across as muddled and all over the place initially but as the narrative progresses, it becomes a much cohesive and heartfelt dramedy. The film has sort of a mockumentary style to it â" raw and unpolished, and its characters appear very spontaneous in what they say or do, which has both an up and downside. It starts off confusingly juvenile but rounds up with some distinguished performances and poignant moments brought by the young cast.
Super Reviewer
½ September 17, 2013
The film suffers from an overabundance of characters that don't all come into focus. However, I respect Gondry for making something that feels honest while still indulging in his more whimsical styles. It is refreshing to see something about teens that doesn't always try to be "realistic" in it's world construction.
½ August 10, 2013
I felt like I was stuck on a bus when I was watching this, which is simultaneously a boon and a bust for the film. Really all I can say is this is unremarkable.
½ November 10, 2012
some really inventive stuff here from Gondry, as usual. good soundtrack and an overall entertaining movie. thought it was a nice touch to have the sounds of the bus and traffic almost as loud as the characters' voices, made it feel authentic.
March 13, 2013
The kind of movie you either will like or you won't. I liked it quite a bit for what Michel Gondry was experimenting with, which was a cinema that is both very real and yet fantastic at the same time; when the kids tell their stories, be they funny, dramatic, sad, strange, it carries those qualities Gondry can bring to elevate the material through his grungy-magical (is that a term? I just made it up so there) aesthetic. When we see the teenagers driving a beat-up old car, it's shot to look a little warped as if from a camera phone, but not just any phone.

This isn't reality TV. It's writing and filmmaking and while you won't get stellar acting across the board from these non-professionals, all acting under their own names, some of them are quite good and are able to bring the text to life. It's almost like Speed meets My Dinner with Andre, if that makes sense - you're stuck on this bus for the long haul, and it'll be suspenseful... there will also be a lot of talk, and buffoonery, and, really, genuine emotion at this turning point of the end of a school year with some betrayals and bewilderment going around.

And while the first two-thirds are mostly a lot of fun, the final third, when the bus crowd thins out, becomes even more interesting than it was before when it focuses on Michael and Teresa, and another kid who we haven't seen much of (wrapped up in a comic-book and in headphones), and that scene in particular is great for these guys having (or thinking they have) grown up just on this bus ride alone. It's a heart-to-heart scene that shows after all of the bluster and big talk from the group-in-the-back, being down to earth is the tough part and what makes kids into the outcasts and bullies and bystanders and so on.

It's sometimes rambling, sometimes unfocused, but that too is part of the charm. And, in a sense, this becomes Gondry's most surprising feature in the sense that he isn't with star-power team-ups (Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Gael Garcia Bernal, Seth Rogen, etc), or with his large grab-bag of surreal/magic-fiction camera and mis-en-scene tricks. Not to say there aren't exceptions - at one point, if I'm not mistaken, Jesus comes on to the bus to break up what could be an escalation-cum-fight on the bus - but it's really just a bunch of slices of life strung together, maybe not too unlike Spike Lee's Get on the Bus but without the baggage of the Million-Man-March message. What is it like to be a teenager, not just in the Bronx but anywhere? Teenagers especially would do well to watch a movie like this, which paints a more captivating and, for me at least, entertaining portrait of life than an MTV show could do. It doesn't stop for a chance to be funny, sometimes with ridiculous results, but its got a big heart and that's what is always wonderful about this director.
July 27, 2015
Michel Gondry's film offers an interesting idea. A group of teenagers who "workshopped" the idea of playing variations of themselves on a bus ride on the last day of school thru the Bronx. It has its share of moments. Sometimes funny, sometimes a bit sad and aching to give voice to young adults who are often denied the opportunity. But something about it never fully comes together. It sort of feels like Gondry is so focused on getting past the stereotyping that it ends up working in opposition to that core goal.
½ April 5, 2015
I thought Adrian Brodie was in this movie for some reason but it was Michael Brodie. Pretty good movie either way.
½ August 5, 2014
Gondry's put out a dense, multi-facetted piece of work here, but he hasn't made anything profound; not enough at least. And if profundity wasn't the goal, and a day in the life of struggling kids in the Bronx was all that was meant to be here, then it's just not that interesting. You'll end up with a hundred questions to be sure, not the least of which being: why?
July 28, 2014
The film was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
July 13, 2014
That this movie exists at all is something of a miracle. It's an oxymoron: a great movie by and about high schoolers. Apparently Michel Gondry worked with these kids for three years to write and film this movie, and the effort certainly shows. But Gondry's influence is only really apparent in the creative and characteristic cinematography choices. The themes, storylines, and character arcs are all too fresh and real to come from an experienced art filmmaker. Getting genuinely representational stories from inner-city multiracial youth has to be something of a holy grail for activist filmmakers. The problem is that no high schoolers anywhere could actually make a film this good.

But these kids did it. They have a few rough edges as actors, but they always feel deeply comfortable in front of the camera, achieving a natural, improvisatory feel that really pulls off the realism of the stories. I love a good ensemble cast (death to the protagonist!), and this one is used really effectively. Most characters play into several of the ongoing story arcs, acting as side characters in each others' dramas. Each storyline features a few main characters but also enriches several others, showing how sensitive our personality and identity are to the social and situational contexts we find ourselves in.

The themes are familiar and universal - bullying, romance, sexuality, social status, etc. - but the vibrant blend of cultures embodied in these uniquely modern kids has a gritty vitality that feels very comfortable in its own skin (again the natural acting is key) and is super fun to experience vicariously. While a genius or just hard-working group of teens could easily master the technical challenges of acting and filming a work like this, it beggars belief that they could write such subtle and mature handlings of these themes (and according to the credits, they didn't, but I actually find that even harder to believe). Each arc is content to be the human story, belying interpretation, even perhaps scorning the idea that these kids' lives should fit into narratives and categories that don't belong to them. The best arcs all concern a girl named Teresa, who stands at a very unusual intersection of status, sexual identity, and consent issues - all of which the movie is confident enough to simply put out there without offering any commentary.

Far more so even then important and revolutionary representational works like Orange is the New Black, or the science fiction of Octavia Butler, The We and The I exemplifies the incredible value perspectives outside the white community, or even the cultural establishment, have in enriching art. The debate about cultural appropriation is an intellectual morass that invites overeager judgmentalism that greases the wheels to easy, pat answers. But this film is maybe the best modern example of a beautiful, fruitful, appropriate exchange and collaboration. To honor and give voice to the perspective of your source community is not just respectful (and I'm certainly not convinced it's a moral obligation): it makes a much classier, richer product. The cynic in me says that what happened here can't be replicated, but whether it can happen or not, more people should be trying to make films like The We and The I.
July 5, 2014
The minute-to-minute meat of this slice-of-city-life is thick soupy rich. One of the best teen movies in a long time and among Gondry's best also.
½ March 27, 2014
Damn great little movie. Sad it didn't receive much press or attention last year. Might be his best film, actually. Can't wait to really fully review it for Smug Film
½ May 21, 2012
Even with so many characters and different tonalities, this film achieves some charm and heartfelt narration, only let down by an out of place childish humour.
½ May 26, 2013
In seinem neuesten Film The We and the I" entführt uns Michel Gondry in einen Schulbus. Am letzten Schultag begleiten wir eine Gruppe eher bildungsferner, mehrheitlich, afro-amerikanischer Jugendlicher, die das Schuljahr Revue passieren lassen, und sich für die Freiheiten der Ferien wappnen.

Dramen spielen sich hier ab, und obwohl ich die wahren Lebensumstände von Afro-Amerikanern in den Großstädten der USA selbst nur aus den Medien kenne, erscheint mir das was Gondry zeigt, als etwas doch recht authentisches.

Weder verteufelt noch verklärt, fällt sein Urteil über diese Teenager aus. Wie in allen Anhäufungen von Menschen, finden sich die coolen Kiddies, Loser, Schüchterne, Charismatische, Bullies - nette wie unfreundliche Jugendliche in diesem Bus, und wer der persönliche Favorit unter diesen unterschiedlichen, und doch herzigen Charakteren ist, bleibt dem Zuseher überlassen.

Interessante Charaktere, die jedoch anonym genug bleiben um als Modelle für weit größere, gesellschaftliche und politische Probleme stehen. Der Konflikt im Kleinen wird hier sinnbildlich für das große Ganze. Eine andere Frage ist, ob Gondry das überhaupt so will.

Als Fan davon, was Gondry sonst so macht, war ich jedoch ein klein wenig enttäuscht. Bis auf einige Details bleiben seine rege Fantasie und sein Händchen für surreale, visuelle Geniestreiche ungenützt. The We and the I" ist definitiv kein The Science of Sleep" und so sehr der Film sich auch bemüht eine kleine Charakterstudie zu bleiben, so bitter ist genau diese Entscheidung Gondrys.
May 21, 2013
Interesting directorial approach, excellent young actors.
½ March 10, 2013
Gondry's put out a dense, multi-facetted piece of work here, but he hasn't made anything profound; not enough at least. And if profundity wasn't the goal, and a day in the life of struggling kids in the Bronx was all that was meant to be here, then it's just not that interesting. You'll end up with a hundred questions to be sure, not the least of which being: why?
½ March 8, 2013
Despite some impressive amateur performances, this was mostly a mean spirited and jumbled film. It's like Spike Lee remade "Kids".
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