I Melt With You (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
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I Melt With You (2011)

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I had but one hope going into I Melt With You, and that was to avoid hearing the inescapably catchy tune employed in the movie.  It wasn't employed in the narrative proper, but in a funeral dirge cover used over the final credits.  Though my hope was dashed, this served as a fairly fitting end to my experience with the film.  In both listening to that cover and watching this film, what hope and promise both start with are  put through an obvious wringer of pain and the resulting product ends up too unpleasant to deal deal with.

The choice of that song to close out the movie is fitting for another reason, we're somehow meant to feel sorry for the four 40-somethings who escaped the '80s with all their privilege and drug resistance intact.  Already the idea of spending two hours with these people seemed like a bad start, but other movies have started off with seemingly nastier characters then blossomed into amazing critiques of their society (Mike Leigh's stunning Naked comes to mind).  The unpleasantness had several obvious entry points, but there was one moment which completely encapsulates just how bad a film this is.

Sasha Grey shows up as a random college partier willing to get naked with her friend in a nearly empty beach house with a morose, suicidal, and nearly comatose man (Christian McKay).  Since he's played Orson Welles before, I could only picture what the long dead prince of theatricality would have thought of his present day stand-in forced to remain motionless while Sasha exclaims "Let me be your heart" and goes to town on him with the unidentified male.  I think he'd make a quip about it being painfully broad and turgid, then with a flourish cause the film to disappear with a bit of magic.

This is an unusually misplaced film for a number of reasons.  It has pretensions beyond any film I've seen in a long time, trying really hard to say something profound about the human experience of getting older.  But the lens into getting older are the four now grown  yuppies who ask questions like "Will we be this free again?" while doing the fifth or sixth line of cocaine in the last hour.

They're profoundly disturbed people but there's no entry way into why they ended up this way and screenwriter Glenn Porter covers this up poorly by giving them the shallowest philosophical dialogue possible.  Bad people can sound profound, but they're all written on the same level of self-destructive consumption just with various shades of "sad" and "less sad but kinda angry".  The cumulative effect is akin to watching one person wrestle with four sides of the same basic personality and getting nowhere.  "Do I put my feet up on the seat or bend my knee a bit?" would be asking too much development from the four men who decide to get away from unfortunate things like success and money.

Director Mark Pellington makes things worse by allowing this film to go out with one of the most blatant soundtracks to underscore the moments.  One character is near the edge of suicide when the words "No pain" are emphasized during the song playing.  Earlier on another wants to punish himself in a fight while "What a nice shot man" comes screaming into my ears.  If I was emotionally invalid this film would serve as a nice auditory tool to introduce me to feeling since every other scene had a song underscoring exactly where I needed to be.  Then there's the acres of simplistic imagery, copping the suicide scene almost verbatim from The Royal Tenenbaums, and staging a colorful breakdown at the end just to break up the endless shots of the nearly vacant dwelling.

Now, worse material has been salvaged by great performances, but look at the titan's of drama which have been assembled to try and soldier through the production.  The only one who seems remotely comfortable with the surroundings is Thomas Jane, who gets the honorary Timothy Olyphant award for needing better work.  He really gives it his all here, sometimes to cloying affect, but at least putting in the effort.  Less effective but still decently employed is Christian McKay, who does the sad sack routine well but isn't given much else to work with.

Then we're left with Jeremy Piven and Rob Lowe.  Folks, when was the last time you thought of a really great dramatic performance and thought of either of these two?  This film plays like a slow motion demo reel of two people who are completely alien to the idea of addiction and sadness reacting to each moment entirely with broad facial tics and lots of sad staring.  There is no question they are funny people (The Goods: Live Fast, Sell Hard is a bizarre work of brilliance to me) but neither one of them is remotely equipped to handle the kind of sadness they're asked to delve into.

This movie will be forgotten, and with good reason.  There would be nothing to learn from these people if you encountered them across the street, or at a party one night.  The sum total of their time on this earth consists of this one night, where they get to ask if the future is open wide anymore.

Not at all.  Not that it meant that much to anyone here to begin with.

I Melt With You (2011)
Directed by Mark Pellington.
Screenplay by Glenn Porter.
Starring Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, and Christian McKay.

Posted by Andrew

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  1. God this was a disposable piece of shit.

    Thank you for giving it a scathing review.

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