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I'll say first that I empathize with this narrator and I found this film to be well worth the time. However, having seen far more personal and daring attempts at catharsis I was put off by the film's consistent, crass disingenuity. Within the first ten minutes, it becomes clear that the narrator's quest to pursue the "history of his failed relationships" is merely a narcissistic attempt to further reinforce the high opinion he holds for himself. This is a fantasy rock-star gratifying himself with a wink to the camera, evidenced more by the passive-aggressive and flippant attitude he displays toward the people who've touched him than by the headphones he costumes around his neck. At the beginning of the film we are introduced to a list of his ex-girlfriends, which we should note is average or above average in length for a man his age, a man who is not physically unattractive. He crassly reintroduces himself to each of the lovely women who've left him with obvious disregard for the people they've become, and we retain the impression that he's carried his camera crew with either bitterness or adolescent bravado to their door for a boast. We see him coaxing smiles from attractive young women on the roadside who giggle and coo for his attentions; we see his mother chide him for having ignored the amorous letters of the many women who've adored him, even as he suppresses a smile; we see him make a fool of "geeky" skateboarders, as if his own ostentatious display of guitars didn't evidence some puerile naivete. All this within the first ten minutes - and is all this to establish some wobbly foundation from which he'll fall, and in the throes of personal agony lay himself raw to some revelation? Perhaps, in the last ten minutes. The majority of the film speaks more to pathos than tragedy. The story unfolds as we loathe to expect: he returns to each of his ex-girlfriends to remind them of how he humiliated them the first time, and it will be a pleasure if he can do so again. He even goes through the motions of finding a new girlfriend (since by now we've established firmly that finding a new girlfriend has NEVER been the problem) just so he can vent even more hostility in systematically rejecting and dismissing them all. He just can't seem to find the committed, genuine anger or the beating he wants as a response - not from a counselor, whose words lack the pain and not from a dominatrix, whose pain is misspoken. By the time our hero takes his Viagra and we're equally convinced his problems have nothing to do with sex, just as our 'documentary' seems to devolve into a time-wasting farce, he narrows to his last, most meaningful interview. Hostility is funny but it can't replace an apology. Now the perennial question 'why did you dump me?' is marked by a more tender, anxious delivery. Even as our imagination pads the brevity of this conversation with some depth, one can't help but wonder to what extent, wiping her tears, this woman also felt used. Who couldn't love the way it ends.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After such a promising start of a film asking some intriguingly deep
and personal questions whilst at the same time being absolutely
hilarious, why are we left with an hour of staged penis and erection
jokes? The amateurish/improvised camera work and rough editing seemed
to form the perfect window into Waitt's world, and it was easy to
accept his lazy talking head style for leading us through. It all
seemed a perfect extension to his personality, explaining as much about
him as does his grimy flat. We aren't watching a Fellini masterpiece,
we're watching a graduation film by a student who woke up 10 years late
for hand in. This extremely personalized style, together with the
enthralling subject and Waitt's amusing personality, promises to
entertain on many levels.
The initial few meetings with ex girlfriends are great, seeing how they have moved on with their lives compared to him (you don't even stop to think that he's a filmmaker). We start to hear his faults as he turns the camera on himself in the most personal way, asking them what they remember from the relationships, what went wrong, why they split-up, etc. There is a beautiful and strange melancholic humour as we watch this character faced with a lost past that he seems to be stuck in and unable to face in a mature way (forget the film-making). This is accentuated by the fact that hardly any of the ex girlfriends want to be there or even see him (one talks from behind a screen, via a computer).
This section culminates in a scene where he meets a girl who left him after he couldn't perform sexually. He does this in the hotel room where it happened and we feel we are in a crime scene as they talk it over. A great and funny scene and all the more hilarious as we realize the woman from the hotel is there, looking annoyed with this fact (and the fact that he is there at all). She gives her advice on the matter. It encapsulates and accentuates the feeling of the whole film to this point. He is in a place where he is unwelcome, revealing his most personal faults to whoever will listen. Brilliant.
After this the film gets preoccupied with his erection problems and something that could have been a funny subplot is turned into the main event. We are then faced with a number of staged scenes that force us to totally disregard any pretense of sincerity the film has previously suggested. He goes to the doctor and the persona we saw when he confronted his ex girlfriends: cheeky, oblivious schoolboy, is turned into a Euro Trash presenter as he sees how rude he can be whilst getting away with it. The following scenes just get worse. He goes to a psychiatrist and rather than talking about his problem he sings her a song about wanting to f*@k all the girls in the world, whilst not even being able to f*@k her. Following this he goes to a dominatrix to have his penis whipped. As a final solution he overdoses on Viagra, which takes him to the streets to ask 300 women if they will f*@k him, and as a result spends the night in a cell. I couldn't think of a more effective way to lose an audiences sympathy for a person. These scenes belong in Jackass and made me wonder why I expected more. It seems to me that his comments about not having the material for a film were true, but desperate to keep it at feature length he sacrificed the initial brilliant idea for a much lesser one.
So, in the end, when Waitts finally visits the one girl who really meant something to him but finds out she is pregnant with another man's child, how are we meant to believe his feelings for her and as a result feel sympathy for him? Through the entire middle section of the film we are faced with numerous staged scenes where he only just stops short of turning to laugh at the camera, so why accept this as real? We're left feeling that he has been mocking everyone who took part...apart from her? I have to admit that the end scenes did strike a chord: The moment of a man realizing he has missed out on something special with someone he loves, a kind of tragic awakening, whilst at the same time meeting someone new. But to give it any credibility I would have to forget a large proportion of the same film.
Meet Chris Waitt. He's a thirty-something auteur and amateur, who embarks on a project to catalog his past girlfriends following in the footsteps of Jim Jarmusch and "Broken Flowers" featuring the middle-aged Bill Murray. The end result is funnier and different in other aspects, too. Waitt comes off as a Kurt Cobain lookalike, whose toilet floor is carpeted in pubic hair w/ used toilet paper rolls in the corner unlike a furniture catalog by IKEA. He walks around carrying his furry microphone and baggy-saggy pants like a leftover grunge-wars survivor. His "Swedish" face is, however, only the surface, because things are boiling beneath it. As the events that unfold testify, he's got enough balls to visit a dominatrix, test his street-credibility vs. women, serenade a psychotherapist citing "crack-whores" and "religious virgins" and trip on Viagra like we've never seen it happen. The movie suggests that in the lives of most/many GenXers, there are four recurring factors apart from differences in personal hygiene and CV: a) A lost loved one is a mental skeleton in the closet b) (S)he is targeted at least once for reclamation c) Inevitable failure on this front may lead to creation of wicked senses of humor (as a defense mechanism) and d) other people and one's own projects claim the (wo)man in the end. Lived life and history can not be changed. If our relationships are like bridges, we almost always burn them after saying cogently goodbye. Because of these strengths, I was mildly indignant that the audience seemed to revel only in Waitt's failures and shortcomings on the sexual front. I could think of many girls who wouldn't be his match or worthy of him as a date. I rate this film relatively high since it was part of the LOVE & ANARCHY film festival and fulfilled the criteria of providing both aspects of love and anarchy quite satisfactorily. The movie was a bit like Borat for the thinking woman's circle of friends. Hand-held cameras and weird scenes ruled, you know. Out of that L&A context, I can understand if other people find this movie overdone, childish, annoying or crude.
Regardless of how much of this 'documentary' is fake and how much of it is real, it is still about a complete and utter lunatic. Chris Waitt, who also directed the film, can't seriously be wondering why all these girls dumped him and why his sex life is a failure, I thought to myself. It's a surprise that he even got that many people to go out on dates with him. When Chris eventually accused several of his ex-girlfriends of being psychopaths, things got even more frustrating. Then we have to endure more than 20 minutes of penis and erection jokes, several of which are obviously staged. Still, I can't say I hated the film, when Chris stopped being so utterly self-obsessed and defensive in tone, and allowed us a clear look at his ex-girlfriends, I genuinely felt some emotion and connection with a lot of them. Ultimately the movie is not bad, but not good either, held afloat by some funny moments, the encounter with his one girlfriend that he'd been with for many years, that he genuinely seemed to love, and a bizarre scene in which he goes out on the street and asks multiple women to sleep with him. I've always wanted to do that, but never had the guts. Above all else the film genuinely cheered me up, made me realize that while I haven't made a semi-successful film, my problems still pale in comparison to Waitt's, and it's not like he exists in almost an alien reality, in total poverty or something, he's not too far off from how I live, and while the film really isn't a success ultimately, it did succeed in making me laugh occasionally and also reconsider my attitude towards women. If the events in the film are real, I do at least admire Waitt's courage in turning the camera on himself and, no matter how stubborn he often is, ultimately admitting how many of his failures were his own fault.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This documentary starts out interesting enough, the honesty of Waitt
and the vicious rejections of his ex girlfriends are disarming and lead
us to feel In tail empathy towards the thirty something film maker.
From here on in though, as Waitt turns the film from a meditation on
failed relationships to a discourse on his impotence, he himself
becomes vulgar and comes across as an entirely obnoxious person.
Furthermore Waitts interview technique comes across as cold bordering
on ignorant and even passive aggressive.
Its impossible to tell if this is a persona that the film maker dons to illicit frustrated responses from the participants he tracks down or if this is actually how Waitt is in reality. Its clear that by the time Chris Waitt is staggering the streets in a Viagra induced stupor asking as many girls as he can if they will sleep with him in the most uncharismatic manner that we have lost all empathy for him and completely understand the hostility shown to him at the start of the film. I found myself hoping that one of the girls approached on the street or one of the men with the girls would end up lumping him. Clearly Waitt feels that wielding a boom Mic a la Nick Broomfield gives him the right to be completely offensive. The stunt itself is pre empted by a childish and phony sequence in which Waitt takes six or seven Viagra pills while waiting for the first to kick in, feigning ignorance of what taking a large amount of Viagra might do.
As stated Its clear that Chris Waitt has taken a Broomfield / Louis Theroux style approach to his material but he simply does not have the charm to pull it off. The aforementioned film makers are famous about making films about diverse subjects but in the process also making films that say a great deal about themselves and therefore making themselves the principle players in the unfolding drama. Here Waitt has got the balance horribly wrong, he is making a film about himself, so conversely it would have merited the final film to step back and be more objective and let others speak about him. But Throughout the film Waitt discredits the participants (calling one ex girlfriend a psychopath is one such example) and and is constantly pushing his own interpretation about himself. Its is all him and what he wants. This all makes for a very ugly spectacle, entirely self consumed and entirely cold and unflinching. When his behaviour gets notable bad at points in the film Waitt is quick to insert a validation and some ponderous music but it all feels very mechanical, like an inserted unsubtle disclaimer. The only part I did relate to was the end when Chris meets his ex who is now having a child, this seems to be the only time that the mask slips and we see Chris as a sympathetic character. It is a shame that this interview is edited to the point where it is just a very few exchanges between the pair before showing an emotional meltdown. but it is too little too late and the film fails under the weight of all that has gone previous and the final 'happy' ending and new relationship feels trite. disingenuous and unpleasant. What Nathan Barley might have made given a video camera. Gets only minimal marks for being polished.
Because thats what i'm having over here. This is a beautiful movie
about a self-centric, chaotic, neurotic and hardly sympathetic man in
his thirties on a self-reflection-Odyssey. The interviews with his
ex-girlfriends paint a grim picture of his personality and yet
throughout the entire movie he never seems to care about what they try
to tell him. This way it's rather obvious where his relationships fail.
And i'm not spoiling anything here, you'll get this in the first ten
minutes of the flick.
What i was expecting to see was some kind of insight on his side, but he seems to stay pretty unshaken by the critics. For a glimpse he seemed to get it when he confronts his big love, but it pales in comparison to the incriminating accusations voiced until that point. Therefore the ending drops in rather suspiciously reconciling.
There is some fun to be had with this movie, the cut and the music make it rather watchable. If you can live with penis-jokes and don't mind the ending, give it a shot. It made me feel a little bit better about my unsuccessful relationships, which is at least something.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just saw this at Prince Charles Cinema in London followed by a lengthy
Q&A session with the director (and subject matter) of this heart-felt
but sometimes forced documentary.
The film starts with a good introduction to the trials and tribulations of Chris Waitt's past relationships. He seems genuinely confused as to why he has such a long list of angry ex's and attempts to interview them to figure out and learn from his previous wrongs. The subject matter was engrossing and as the documentary goes on, the viewer gets a sense that through all the stoic British dryness and sardonic wit, the protagonist's predicament is actually quite serious and you find yourself really feeling for the guy (even though you think he's a total loser).
However, all this build up is then let down by a few farcical seemingly-staged sketches including a painful dominatrix skit (boys, you might want to bring a hanky to wipe away those sympathy tears), and an overstretched scene suggesting Viagra over-dose will turn you into an indiscriminate sex maniac who will prowl the streets of London Borat-style. Chris Waitt mentioned in the Q&A that previous test-screenings left audiences entirely depressed so it's understandable that they played to the comedy side of the film when editing. Of note is that one of the editors - Chris Dickens, also edited Hot Fuzz, so this documentary really does have a playful comedic edge but unfortunately this also leaves some parts feeling rather fake or forced. Towards the end of the film you are left confused and wondering if this really was a documentary or a carefully stage mockumentary and as Chris admitted, the epilogue of the documentary is more than a bit Jerry Springer Thought of the Day. I would be interested in seeing another cut of the film, with less slapstick and more exploration of his past relationships and what he'd learnt from them. Apart from the significant epiphany Chris has on his journey, he brushes off all his other ex's accusations with witty comebacks and nonchalance which I feel is just for the camera.
On the positive side, during the more subtle parts of the film, of which there are many, the audience were left either roaring with laughter or having their heart-strings severely tested because of the honest portrayal of the situations. However, we may have been a more sympathetic audience having 'met' Chris when he introduced the film. As other comments have shown, it may be harder to sympathise with him/the character had we not seen him all witty, humble and scruffy in the flesh.
Overall, this documentary is well worth going out of your way to see. No one can deny how brave Chris has been to go on a journey into the painful past that most of us would prefer to forget. Chris jokingly said that the moral of the film is 'Don't overdose on Viagra' but I would like to rephrase that and say it is about how everything that happens good or bad ultimately brings you to the present, and in the here and now, you should always seize the day and not let something/someone slip through your fingers.
I remember reading reviews, some quite negative, about Chris Waitt's
film and I think a few might not have got the conceit; the film is more
of a mockumentary, with the audience laughing with and at Waitt; it is
the comedy of embarrassment rather than a genuine examination of
First of all, I'd like to put on record that Waitt comes across as a fundamentally good-natured, if lazy, shambling shaggy-dog of a man (shaggy dog story), essentially quite lovable. Compared to the way some men treat women, Waitt is not that bad a person: his main faults appear to be laziness and a lack of commitment.
As the film progressed, it became obvious that a lot of the scenes had been set-up (his exasperated producers, a blind-date) and too many of the people inhabit Waitt's media world making you doubt its veracity (one ex is an actress, he ends up finding love with a journalist). It is a piece of guerilla/gonzo film making with the film-maker's mother becoming a character, exasperated at her son's feckless behaviour, with her pithy comments.
The first girlfriend, it is eventually revealed, was from Waitt's childhood (eleven), so completely undercutting the adult conversation and our expectations. I don't doubt many of Waitt's former girlfriends refused to appear, but maybe that was more to do with appearing on film than with Waitt himself. The scene with the girlfriend hidden in a hotel room and then giving her scathing comments via a machine obscuring her voice came across as comedic as did the encounter with an ex- in the Indian restaurant; it emerges that since Waitt, she has only gone out with Asian men. It then becomes obvious that the film is sending up both Waitt and romance as he pushes things to the extreme.
Halfway through the film, I began to lose interest and decided to catch up the highlights of the Football League Show on another channel before catching the end of the film. It isn't serious enough to deserve full attention.
The film does end on a more serious, optimistic note. At the beginning of the film, one ex-girlfriend from his teenage years is asked what she learnt from the end of their relationship and she replies about learning to do things differently and,in a sense, this is the lesson Waitt learns as well as appreciating a former girlfriend and the love she felt for him.
The film is faintly reminiscent of John Cusack's role in Nick Hornby's 'High Fidelity', (a more conventionally structured and narrative driven account) also punctuated with moments of embarrassing comedy (the ex-girlfriend traumatised from the break-up).
Premiere night in Madrid. Full house to see Chris Waitt himself (and
mother) to do the introduction before the movie, with Angel Martin (the
guy who dubbed him in Spanish - yes, unfortunately it was the dubbed
version). "Meet my voice" said the director/actor with pure irony...
The documentary starts with a simple idea: he had just broken up with another girlfriend and decides to investigate why do women always leave him. So, let's start to call of the ex's! The secret of the movie is the very good editing, the music and the extent at which he mocks himself, even up to the point where we can start to feel some pity for the poor fellow...
In some points, and by being filmed the same way one tends to remember "Supersize me". I guess the auto-documentary is an easy and cheaper way to express!
In the end, we leave the room with some good laughs, maybe even identified with some situations that make up man-woman relationships, but most of all, absolutely sure that to build strong relationships you must give the best out of you and try not to be a childish and selfish pig just like Chris...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This could have been interesting, a guy is dumped by yet another
girlfriend so he decides to contact all his exes and see why he is
dumped so often.
***SPOILER*** I save you the tedium of watching this to find out why - they dump him because he's a narcissistic, lazy, scruffy idiot. With someone who is more likable, sympathetic or interesting it could have been funny, particularly when he overdoses on pills, gets a day-long erection and runs around trying to find someone to sleep with him, however at this stage he's become irritating and doesn't seem to have learned anything about himself.
1 for the concept and the bravery to try something like this, but 0 for the rest
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