There’s alot of modern film movements I just don’t get as a whole. Mumblecore is one of them. You know what i mean, the anti-acting approach of “everything is blase’, nothing is exciting”? To me it just makes all the characters seem like they are high on heroin on the verge of nodding off…but just like what happened with found footage for me it was only a matter of time before a film slipped into my field of vision and made me question my initial impression. For mumblecore it took a surreal mumblecore horror film to do that for me. That film was MEET ME THERE.
MEET ME THERE Introduces Ada and Calvin, a young couple with a troubling bedroom issue. Whenever they attempt to make love, Ada becomes angry, disgusted or fearful, seemingly without reason. When a couples councilor suggests that perhaps a repressed memory of childhood abuse may be the cause the couple sets out to the small town where Ada grew up. Upon arriving they realize things in this town are much stranger than they had thought and that they have much more to worry about than repressed memories because the folks of this town aren’t just quirky and crazy, they’re downright hostile!
At turns funny and endearing, eerie and downright disturbing, Meet Me There is what you’d get if Kevin Smith, David Lynch and Oliver Stone got together over some peyote and re-imagined Deliverance as a couple’s road movie!
The downplayed acting I typically despise in mumblecore films works wonderfully here, making it all the more bizarre and shocking when a character does lose their shit. It also makes our main characters seem as if they are in a dream state, almost as if they’ve been hypnotized, drawn to this small odd ball town by a malevolent force. I believe this was a very deliberate chose made by director Lex Lybrand..
A film like this is only as good as it’s leads and this bad boy has some seriously solid ones. Calvin reminds me of Bo Kiester mixed with Owen Wilson. He has that easy going approachability that just makes you want to be friends with the guy. You want to shoot pool and have a beer with the fella, and best of all I get the feeling that it’s genuine, that not a whole lot of acting was required for the actor to fit the role and he really is that cool of a guy..I may be completely off base and if so then bravo times two. Ada was excellent as well, reminding me alot of a young Wenona Ryder both in appearance and approach. she’s the perfect on screen match for Calvin. Where he is open and a bit clingy she’s secretive (even to herself) and stand offish. She lives in her own dark world. She’s far from a bad person but to afraid to be a truly good one, instead stuck in the purgatory between the two wondering if she’s even a person at all. She’s terrified of losing Calvin because she’s so imperfect and he’s terrified of losing her because he perceives himself as not good enough. This conflict is so real and palatable, so close to home or virtually any real couple that this film cuts much deeper when the terror begins to unfold and lingers much longer than it’s running time should allow..
The other thing that makes this film work so well is that our main characters don’t look like super models. They actually look like real people! Calvin is Pudgy and messily dressed like a real American man! Ada has blemishes and (gasp) even some cellulite! She has real breasts and her clothes are off the rack! These details may seem minor to some but in this reviewer’s humble opinion this was an ingenious move on the part of the casting director, giving an air of believably to an oftentimes stylized surreal film..
Before I finish this review I need to touch on the score. Hyper extended silences and old gospel hymns (one of which this film gets it’s title from) make up it’s entirety and holy fucking shit is it effective! In one scene the daughter of the Minister of a church Ada and Calvin visit breaks into song (The aforementioned title inspiring piece Meet Me There) and this girl’s voice had me awe struck. It’s downright criminal that we don’t have her singing the song in it’s entirety as a special feature! I can’t get enough of it!
Overall I give this film two middle fingers chopped off and sanded to the bone. It’s incredibly unique and it’s incredible message about how we need to seek redemption not by going back to things we can’t change but by moving forward and embracing what we can and the dangers that coming with pursuing the former is powerful in it’s truth and simplicity. I highly recommend this film. Bravo to SGL for another very solid release.