AT THE VIDEO STORE is an innovative and rambunctiously entertaining documentary film by director James Westby (Film Geek, The Auteur, Rid of Me). Equal parts personal essay, intense ... See full summary »
You know what usually happens when you watch an indie movie with divided 1 star/5 star reviews on netflix... 90% of the time you watch it, it's a solid 2 star (rarely a 3) out of 5 and you don't even think about it again. The rest of the time it's something "interesting" - not necessarily great. Last night we watched "Rid of Me" a 2011 indie movie. I can't stop thinking about it all last night and today.
It totally touched me (mostly by creeping me out). The film is about Meris, a socially awkward, shy young woman who is in love and moves with her all American jock boy type husband to his home town in Oregon where a group of his frat bro buddies and their wives await. The friends are annoying and crass, and she has some mental conditions (depression, social anxiety). Things don't go well in terms of Meris fitting in. When an old flame of the husband moves back to town, the marriage is soon on the rocks. She goes through some difficult stuff and then the movie is about "finding yourself". Cheap movie and production is pretty bad and throughout the first half at least I felt incredibly uncomfortable, but this is the intention and possibly even the point of the film.
First it was interesting that the movie was about a woman and her journey. This woman was not presented as classically attractive, nor is she the life of the party by any means. It's rare to have this kind of character focused on. At the same time, the focus on this character is what makes the movie both uncomfortable and poignant.
Personally, I could not relate to the title character, the meek Meris. How can someone be so hapless and direction-less? It seemed she had no autonomy as she was being carried into further and further horrific situations that gave her no respite from herself or from the mean people she dealt with. I realise she was not meant to be a realistic character but the way the film is shot you are following her all the time and you feel like shaking her up throughout the first half of the movie. Meris, how can you not protect yourself from going to those places? Don't you grow a backbone girl?? I just found my mind in a logical bind that a person would let themselves get into situations like that. Perhaps I am forgetting how you can be so naive when you're in stupid young love and at that point in life when you have not yet understood that people are weak and disappointing and you should always protect your back.
And the backbone, she does indeed grow in her own way and with a lot of mess on the way, as we all do - well maybe a bit messier than average. We see Meris develop all the way to the act of extreme defiance she carries out in the opening scene of the movie, which where she walks up to a plastic blonde woman in a supermarket and does something shocking and defiant. (Side note: This act is probably one that is extremely feminine in some ways, but it struck me as a very male scene to write - I don't know if I am going to be able to explain this, it's just a subtle thing, almost like a man envisioned what Meris would do).
The finding yourself part, the main theme of the film, is not all blood. There is comic relief, plus some high school regression, friendship, 90s style girl power, smoking, aging goth characters ; and all that stuff works in the end and you have weird friends and you laugh and you learn to accept yourself and not to let a man have control over who you can and cannot be.
I find it a hard movie to recommend in an unqualified way because the movie is uncomfortable but if you want to try something different, it's worth checking this out.
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