EIFF ’11 Day Seven – On the Shore, Jitters & Meet Monica Velour

 

On the Shore
Michel (Daniel Duvall) is a police officer with a problem; he’s afflicted with terrible apathy for life and is suffering from constant nightmares – that all changes though when he discovers the body of Sandra, a beautiful woman who has committed suicide. Michel manages to construct an image of who Sandra was through various unethical practices and it’s not long before he becomes obsessed with her completely.

Whilst at first scenes depicting Michel’s supposed relationship with Sandra is presented ambiguously (did he know her at all before her death?), it’s not long before it’s established that he’s completely nuts. A lot of the fun to be had early on in this movie is in trying to fathom how much of this relationship is a complete fabrication of Michel’s imagination, so as soon as that is taken away from the audience it becomes dull a lot quicker than it would have had the intrigue been kept alive a little longer.

It’s not all bad though, I did enjoy how this film documented the whole life cycle of a relationship from excited beginnings to tearful goodbyes – even if one person in that relationship never really existed to the other; there’s never any question however of Michel’s love for Sandra, just very obvious doubts about his sanity.

If anything this film lacked conflict; even those close to Michel and Sandra only ever have slight doubts as to Michel’s sincerity and his mental state – leaving Michel to blunder around chaotically without any real consequence to his ever more extreme actions. Without there being anything more than Michel’s enthusiast consumption of any information he can find about Sandra, his delusional relationship with her is far too one note to carry the weight of the movie as a whole.

Should you go see it? I’d verge (only just) on no for this one, it was the best film I saw today (not saying much as you’ll read below),

 

Jitters
This film has been promoted as an Icelandic big screen version of Skins, a fact that it wears happily on its sleeve throughout. The problem you’ll face trying to replicate an entire series of a show on screen is that you inevitably replicate an entire series. No amount of italics is ever going to do that sentence justice, so let’s just get on with it.

Gabriel is a young Incelandic chap who comes over to our fair shores for a three week exchange; whilst over he meets and smooches a boy. This fact is then summarily forgotten for most of the film. After carefully being established as the main character, Gabriel then returns to Iceland to a veritable soap opera cast’s worth of people who all then also become the stars of the film. Gabriel is often nowhere to be seen for minutes at a time leading to this becoming somewhat of an ensemble feature; unfortunately Jitters doesn’t seem to realise this and every now and then tries to push Gabriel back to the forefront – what the filmmakers also fail to realise is that Gabriel is pretty rubbish and no fun to watch. As you can probably gather, I didn’t have a great time watching this film.

Maybe this is the old man in me, but I couldn’t help but watch this and think back to when I was seventeen; if I could go back and meet the seventeen year old Chris Madden I’d give him a clip round the ear and tell him to stop bloody moaning. That’s how I felt the entire time watching this movie, every thing that’s happening to every person is the most dramatic thing in the world ever and part of me just wanted to shout out GROW UP! This led to a massive emotional disconnect with the kids on screen, so much so that when one tops herself because her gran is so annoying, I couldn’t help but stifle a laugh – probably not the intended reaction there then.

Jitters’ main crime is that it just has far too much going on all at once as every single character has some drastic life affecting drama going on; you’ve got the lead who is confused by his sexuality, the girl with the alcoholic mother trying to find her biological father, the horny tough guy who is constantly on and off with his missus and, who could forget, the girl who knocks herself off. Without any real focus we amble carelessly through multiple narrative arcs and

Despite not being overly long, it felt like this film went on for bloody ever – the constant flip flopping between characters and dramas left this a draining watch; one that would have fared much better had it had a more intent focus on its main character.

Closing note: Jitters also wins a special award for having the worst on screen representation of Manchester I’ve ever seen; they should have just called it Cambridge and have been done with it. Boo!

Should you go see it? Nope, there’s really no reason to watch it; just go buy Skins on DVD instead – it probably lasts just as long.

Meet Monica Velour
Dustin Ingram co-stars alongside Kim Cattrall in this supposed coming of age comedy about a young semi-obsessive soft-core pornography fan who seeks out his now aging idol in a desperate bid to win her friendship; imagine The Girl Next Door were Elisha Cuthbert twenty years older and Emile Hirsh a hell of a lot more creepy and you’re almost there.

Things start off promisingly enough and there are a few laughs to be had between lead character Tobe and fun supporting cast comprising of his wiseass grandpa, sheltered next door neighbour and that weird obsessive girl who likes him a bit too much – unfortunately the laughs dry up quick as Tobe goes off on his road trip to try and meet hunt down the titular Monica Velour. Kim Cattrall plays the aging washed up porn star well enough but from the moment she’s on screen all she really has to do is spurn Tobe’s advances until the moment she eventually cracks and sleeps with him. Understandably this makes both her situation and the film a whole lot worse.

I get the impression that in the all important emotional “learning the lesson” scene towards the end of the film, Tobe is supposed to come off as being incredibly sweet with just a hint of naivety about him, but I just couldn’t shake the image of him being obsessive to the point of delusion – a stone’s throw from pulling a knife and finishing them both off. That’s the main problem with the film as a whole; as an audience we are never really given the reason to back Tobe because he always comes off as too much of a stalker.

Whilst I can understand the concept behind the movie, ultimately it doesn’t pay off because shortly after Tobe meets Monica, there’s nothing really left for the film to do other than throw a few hamfisted life lessons around late in the game, and that’s its most unforgiveable crime; a coming of age comedy should always have the main character come to realise something of their own accord, no matter how inconsequential it may seem and this is how we know they’ve come of age; unfortunately Meet Monica Velour stuffs this up almost as bad as it does everything else.

Should you go see it? That’s a no three times in a row! Whilst it has funny moments, there’s not enough heart here to make it worth watching – just go buy the Girl Next Door on DVD instead – it’s miles better.

 

 

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