The We and the I Reviews
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.
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.
Who isn?t really a big aficionado for Michel Gondry?s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Even fascinated by the big ideas nesting on The Science of Sleep, several years before Looper?s recent time travel novelties. An inspired, world renowned music video director and a visual artist in the literal sense of the notion, the Frenchman didn?t exactly struck gold with his hallow, Seth Rogen scripted adaptation of The Green Hornet for the Hollywood blockbuster scene. Viewed under this prism, The We and The I comes initially as a welcome surprise, a pilgrim to the Bronx community centre(s) scene, flooded by black and Hispanic students, kids that usually don?t have the lion?s share in life, strained by dysfunctional families and empty pockets. But, you know, they?re kids, not horny meanies in the sense of Ken Clark?s ambiguous peeping tom show- it -all epic, or dazed and confused like the little serial killers in Gus Van Sant?s superior Elephant. Gondry doesn?t strive for excellence; this is more than apparent here. He?s keen interest focuses on chit chat, pranks, borderline violent exchange, bullying and acceptance at the age of sexual awakenings. All that jazz which is shapes our characters through this morpheme which we signify as adolescence. As a short, (around 45 min.) The We would mean much more than The I, this bus trip on the last day of school, feels running much more than the 90 min. of its actual duration. At very end, the appropriate preaching and happy ending knocks heavily on our door, giving away too much of Gondry?s best intentions. What?s left is the remnants of a day spent in our junior citizen?s private moments, an odour that can be simultaneously fresh and stale, depending on the side we are propelled to choose.