Film Review: ‘The We and the I’ another Michel Gondry love letter to NYC

the_we_and_i_directors_fortnight

Ang Lee just won a Directing Oscar for shooting most of a film in and around a small boat. Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) goes one step further: a few moments on the street and a handful of Gondry-esque fantasies aside, his latest, the collaborative “The We and the I,” never leaves the inside of a city bus taking high schoolers from one side of the Bronx to the other. In real life, this ride takes considerably less time than the length of an average movie, even in rush hour, but the film, like most Gondrys, exists in an absurdist, heightened version of reality, albeit one with its second foot firmly in reality.

Gondry created the film over four years with high schoolers enrolled in an afterschool arts program. They play “themselves,” which is to say heightened versions of their slightly younger selves (some were already in college by the time Gondry scored the funds and such to shoot). Set after the last day of school, “The We and the I” piles them on an MTA bus, which they immediately make their temporary home. A series of plotless hang-out sessions ensue, the camera jumping between teens of varying backgrounds and social hierarchies, and sometimes into flashbacks that resemble the director’s storied, playful music videos.

It’s one strain of energy fused with another. The kids are rambunctious, even blue, while, Gondry — nearly 50 but eternally kid-like, who once made a documentary self-portrait entitled “I’ve Been Twelve Forever” — brings his own, splicing in Young MC and his usual makeshift contraptions with today’s youth and cell phone apps. This is the Frenchman’s fourth NYC and vicinity movie — including “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” and the Passaiac-set “Be Kind Rewind” — and he has a way of bottling up the city’s polyglot energy with an ever-curious set of eyes.

As with all of Gondry’s work, there’s a melancholy buried in the whimsy and anarchism. It’s a touch too pronounced, with the film going from freewheeling, freeform fun, fueled by energy and filmmaking as fast as its chatter, to a sad, sober, talky conclusion. There’s ways to delve into character depth without making ruining the fun, as “The We and the I” very nearly does. Although, like the characters — or more specifically, actors — the film is too lovable to engender anything approaching disappointment.

‘The We and the I’
Director: Michel Gondry
Stars: Michael Brody, Teresa Lynn
Rating: NR
3 out of 5 Globes


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.