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A French romantic follows his dream girl to NYC, but a weekend of white lies, one-night-stands and tangled love triangles prove infatuation and romance are not what they seem. Featuring indie darling Greta Gerwig.
Mary Bronstein's Yeast is an intriguing step in the already extensive timeline of the now decade-old cinematic movement of mumblecore. The film explores the idea of female friendships and how they can deteriorate over time for reasons that are inherent and sometimes inevitable. Ever know someone you knew for a long time and they knew how to be your closest friend as well as having almost immediate access to under your skin and an instant pipeline to what makes you tick?
In just seventy-seven minutes, Bronstein explores the behavior of females in tight situations and says a mouthful. She plays Rachel a good-natured but needy, vindictive woman living in a low-rent apartment with her roommate Alice (Amy Judd). She is friends with Alice, but lately, has been triggering Rachel's maximum tolerance for shady and silent behavior.
She abruptly refuses to go on a simple getaway with Rachel and her close friend, Gen (Greta Gerwig), which leads Rachel to just leave her in the dust as they go out and hopefully have a great time. Gen begins to engage in some outrageous acts of disobedience and disregard for others' feelings by either taunting a group of campers nearby or just not taking into consideration her friends feelings. She acts in a lawless, inconsequential manner that drives to Rachel to almost ending the friendship.
She returns home to Alice, whose lackadaisical personality is hitting critical mass. She does not do dishes (or any chores for that matter), has a disgustingly incompetent and listless agenda, is surly and insufferable, and just completely offputting. The remainder of the film is devoted to Rachel's one-on-one talks with Alice.
Yeast describes itself as, "a maddeningly oblivious, tyrannical, and emotionally stunted young woman tries her best to negotiate two toxic friendships." The film faults all the characters in a subtle yet direct way, never making any out to be truly innocent, but only to ones perspective. One can view Rachel as justified to complain about her friends' attitudes, and another could fault her for being self-indulgent and equipped with a "everyone needs to be like me - open and properly mannered" personality. This is the effect of an impressive script, which was reportedly mostly improvised giving it a pleasantly naturalistic feel.
It is expected that those who embrace mumblecore films with an open mind and a sense of life will emerge greatly fulfilled, while those expecting a traditional take on a unique subject will casually dismiss it. I believe those are the two ways you can view the cinematic movement and there's rarely an "in between stance" with a mumblecore film. You either connect with it and are satisfied or are left cold and unmoved. Yeast does a fantastic job showing us a scarcely discussed aspect of feminine friendships that I'd much rather see than women parading in skimpy, tight outfits oppressively boasting their "neo-feminine" side. Charlie's Angels anyone?
Starring: Mary Bronstein, Greta Gerwig, and Amy Judd. Directed by: Mary Bronstein.
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