Could I have hated this movie any more? I don’t think I could have. See, if you changed ANYthing, then it wouldn’t be the exact perfect storm of things I hate. If the protagonist, Michael Stone, had been less gruffly and humorously a curmudgeon in the beginning I wouldn’t have liked him and of course wouldn’t have cared about his character. If the sex scene between himself and Lisa, the shy, self-deprecating groupie, (I mean woman!) he meets hadn’t been so realistic/relatable (yes, it usually tickles when you try to finger someone) I wouldn’t have been invested in their dynamic. If he hadn’t sounded so vulnerable on the phone when he reached out to Bella, a woman he hadn’t spoken to in 11 years, I wouldn’t have felt so bad for him when she stormed out saying, “Fuck you Michael!” without knowing why.
But this is all an outside perspective slowly unraveling into exposition, we haven’t quite gotten around to meaning or intentionality or any protagonist insight. Because of this specific structure of storytelling, I cared about this weird felt puppet man and the people in his life. Which is why I hated, SIMPLY FUCKING HATED the reveal that SURPRISE! He’s a selfish awful careless dick!
There’s a lot of stuff going on and it’s unclear to the audience why. There’s a woman he hasn’t spoken to in 11 years, he seems disconnected from his family, he quote unquote “always loses everyone.” As a sympathetic audience member you feel for Michael and wonder why these things are so. Then, 45 minutes later, you find out it’s because he’s a huge asshole.
But not just a normal asshole. A delusional narcissist who sees everyone in the world (including his wife and son, by the way) as one person! What kind of person you ask? Well, this person unconditionally loves him yet is not good enough for him because no one is enough of an individual to stand out and catch his interest.
Sometimes young women stand out to him as unique, and instead of considering their autonomy or respecting anything they have going he plasters them with relentless over the top affection and tries to “get” them, by making them fall in love with him and uproot their entire lives to be with him. However as the pattern goes, he drops them like a hot potato the SECOND they do or say something that isn’t completely unique to him, and they become lumped in with the category of ‘everyone else.’ This is illustrated clearly in the film- every character has the same voice, then he meets Lisa who has a different voice. She is allowed to have that for a while, then when they’re discussing what they want to do (moments after he has confessed his love for her within 24 hours of meeting her) she suggests the zoo, a destination his cab driver suggested earlier. The way she’s talking about it is too similar for Michael, so as she’s saying what kinds of animals they have (as the cabbie did) her voice slowly changes into the one everyone else has. Then he’s awful to her at breakfast and immedietly becomes annoyed with her and criticizes the way she talks, and eats and holds her fork. He becomes controlling and awful and dismissive. Then of course she’s like, “what’s wrong?” because he went from loving/worshipping everything about her to be disgusted and annoyed with her presence in the span of one minute and he’s like, “What? Oh, nothing.”
Why is this even a movie? To remind us that people are awful? There weren’t even interesting concepts to grasp or wrestle with, you just build an affinity for this man slowly only to find out that he’s awful. I don’t need to watch a movie to go through that, I was in college once.
There were things I liked of course. A lot of the comedic timing in his interactions with the strangers in his life was on point. There was an amazing irony that the moment he (we) realizes he views everyone the same is during his speech on customer service and how you should treat each person with a unique, special consideration. I liked the visual in the dream when the bottom of his face came off, I liked the way that looked.
But all of it it just adds up to nothing for me. Oh great, the world is horrible and you wanted to share it? No thanks! And fuck you Charlie Kaufman! Hug someone!
ALSO in the trailer, one of the reviews that’s highlighted is one where it says, “the most human film of the year.” WHY in the FUCK would they say that? How sad is your view of humanity? That video of that rat bringing a piece of pizza on the subway is a more optimistic view of humanity than this movie.
3 out of 7 felt jawlines WOULD NEVER MASTURBATE.