"A beautiful movie that escapes the tyranny of words, 5 June 2006
Author: jorjny from United States
*** This comment may contain spoilers ***
Just saw this at the Brooklyn Film Festival. What a great film! Very entertaining. Unusual and unconventional as a film, but not because it is trying to be.
I don't know how this was shot on a small budget. It is visually near perfect. It's beautiful but not in a gratuitous way. The visual beauty of the film and the perfection of the shots are exactly in line with the story being told.
Another reviewer has mentioned that the people in this film seemingly fail to say or do things that one would expect them to say or do in real life. It is definitely true that the people in the film completely fail to say or do things that they would say or do in a typical movie. I'm not so sure about in real life. By the end of the movie you understand what has been happening, to some extent, in the hearts of the characters and this accounts for their not trying to fill in the gaps in the information held by each other. During the film you are expecting people to say things that they fail to say, but by the end of the movie you realize that it could have happened just like it was filmed. The dialog that does take place sounds exactly like unscripted everyday speech.
This movie certainly doesn't look or feel like a Terrence Malick film, but watching it reminded me of a review I read when Malick's "Days of Heaven" first came out. The review claimed that "Days of Heaven" was the first movie ever made that was truly a movie and in no way a book set to pictures. The words didn't come first, either as a storyline or later as dialog. The dialog in "Days of Heaven" fades in and out and sounds like eavesdropping most of the time. And any storyline would necessarily say only a fraction of what the movie says.
"The Goodtimes Kid" doesn't duplicate Malick's feat of simultaneously painting a portrait of individual human hearts and an entire era. (Probably only films set in the past can do that.) But it does succeed in the same way as a Malick film in being a work of art that escapes the left brain tyranny of the internal narrator. The characters are all at loose ends and driven by their emotions and so aren't trying to construct a logical life plan at this particular point in their lives. And the director doesn't intervene and impose an external structure for the sake of the audience.
The film has a plot, but the plot turns on completely visual events. By a completely visual event I mean something that you really need to see to catch the meaning of, and that the left brain would be completely at a loss to show, (although not to *describe*).
An example of this is one wonderful scene where the heroine of the movie performs a short impromptu dance (one of the best dance scenes you'll see in a recent movie). I won't spoil it by going into too much detail, but what the character is wearing and the type of music that is playing, and the type of dance she does all serve to cause a motive for another character's decision later in the film. And since we are standing in that other character's place, we feel the same motive, and understand.
By the way, by saying that the film has a plot, I hope I'm not providing a spoiler.. this isn't one of those aimless slice-of-life depictions of colorful characters. This movie tells a story.
Great soundtrack too, go see it if you can (hope it makes it to theaters) and give your right brain a treat. Entertaining because of the mastery of the visuals and the way it tells a story in so relentlessly nonverbal a way, but also because it has something to say to the human heart."