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Writer/director/producer Ingrid Veninger's 'I am a good person/I am a bad person' is a very engaging film - from the first moments on screen -ironic because the lead character - Ruby, a mother and indie filmmaker - in that opening intimate scene is completely disengaged. She is so dissociated from her own feelings and from life and this simple opening act reflects this. This deep disconnect runs through the family, both in her marriage and also with her teenage son and her teenage daughter. When Ruby takes her daughter Sarah to Berlin to be her assistant for the opening of her film at a very small film festival(and that is worth watching), things slowly take a turn for the worse. Sarah is harbouring a secret of her own and there is very little real communication between mother and daughter. Both are emotionally lost in their own inner worlds and both are in a major yet unspoken transition in their lives. Both need to change. There is no easy fix. This cannot be done together. Sarah, frustrated, abandons Ruby and flies to Paris in order to comes to terms with herself away from her 'oversharing' mother. Ruby is left to wander Berlin on her own, sadly promoting her very obscure small film and meeting very interesting characters. Writer/director Veninger manages to keep the tension and ennui of both characters building to a perfect simple ending. The cinematography is also very good. The film was shot in Europe and has at times a very melancholic feel to it. The minor chords, the silences, the offbeat humour, where what is not shared is sometimes more important that what is shared or revealed. This is an intelligent film that speaks to deep, unspoken longing - to be seen, to feel love. A film which is not afraid to hold the tension of the seemingly opposite good person/bad person in all of us.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really loved this movie. I sat down to squeeze in a half hour of it this afternoon...and then found myself cancelling plans because I was captivated by the imagery and emotion of the piece and just couldn't leave. Hallie Switzer portrays the newly pregnant teen with such delicacy - she is a delight to watch in her awkwardness and insecurity that transforms into strength and resolve - her emotion is so tangible. Ingrid Veninger's portrayal of the self-absorbed mother and "enfant terrible" filmmaker was poignant and so, so funny at times. She embraces playing status -losing it mostly in this film, and does not shy away from going to the depths of her loneliness to communicate the isolation she feels. Two women lost - searching for answers to big questions-- they separate and reunite -- transformed by their experiences in Berlin and Paris. Great local characters enter the picture and fuel the ambiance of each city. The cinematography is beautiful - you will be captivated by the shot of a soap bubble flying in the sky and will lose yourself in Hallie's sweet, sad eyes and in the final hand embrace of mother and daughter, reunited and okay. Highly, highly recommend. Like a great cognac...you will taste this movie long after.
"I'm a good person/I'm a bad person" is currently playing exclusively at select festivals and is Ingrid Veninger at her comedic finest. A delightful comedy (and commentary) on the angst all mothers and daughters face about the difficulties involved when relationship roles are stretched, tested, and re-defined. A must see for anyone who has ever been embarrassed by their mother while traveling or otherwise. A poignant and honest account that speaks to the reality of a stale marriage and how it is compromised when children are involved. Funny, delightful, and intriguing; Veninger is burgeoning in her role as a Canadian on-screen satirical genius.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had the misfortune of watching this film as part of a
still-continuing film festival. It's the only one of nine films I've
seen thus far I've hated. The editor was present afterward for a
question-and-answer period; though the editing was good, what he said
about how the director made the film made me dislike it all the more;
that a script was written, then the director made up parts as she went
along to the three overseas cities and met people whom she then wanted
to include. The characters were unlikable, sexual scenes and
titillation were installed for no purpose other to sell the film (just
check the trailer, which shows absolutely nothing to do with the film,
for a prime example), and everything in the movie was completely
predictable. I am very generous in giving this a three; I should have
given it either a zero or one. What a complete waste of two hours of my
life. The editor told me the director has just begun teaching. I hope
this doesn't lead to more films like this.
This would have made some more sense to me and have held more intrinsic value had the mother-daughter relationship been utilized more in the film in terms of them understanding their individual predicaments and coming to some sense of resolution about them. But no. They came to solutions on their own, then had a "Oh, you seem different" reunion moment and hold hands on the plane home. The only words to describe everything involved in the character development of this film are empty, meaningless and hollow. And the gimmicks: A blowjob in the first minute, and a trailer of men in their pants and underwear that has absolutely nothing to do with the film. The married main character ingesting huge amounts of alcohol and dancing all night long, trying to seduce much younger men, and the fact that it's being filmed in such great cities as London, Paris and Berlin. Ooh. Gimmick, gimmick, gimmick. Like tattoos and makeup, simply glossing over superficialities when what all that is really needed is a good character and fine acting performances. I have no idea what films or directors led the director to go into filmmaking, but certainly it should have led to much more than this. There is beauty out there: trust me on this. Take a year off and go out and find it. Please, for everybody's sake.
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