“I don’t know what the fuck it is. It’s kind of different and strange.” This line from one the more quintessential indie films, My Art, I believe, perfectly sums up the movie in question and if it weren’t for the details of the job, I would probably describe the movie as just that and be done with it. However, because this is supposed to be a review, I suppose that I should go into a bit more detail about the movie.
My Art follows the story of Ellie, played by Laurie Simmons, as she spends one summer, house sitting for a friend in Upstate New York. During her time there, she meets and befriends gardeners and locals of the small town, who in turn end up helping Ellie with a film project whose focus is on her reimagining and reinvention of classic, Hollywood movies.
One of the things that I really enjoyed about this movie once I began to really think about it is the fact that Ellie does seems to become more alive as she falls deeper and deeper into her project. Before she leaves for the summer house, the audience gets a feeling that Ellie may not necessarily be extremely happy or clear on her life or the direction that it’s going in. Instead of letting that take her into an existential and depressive down spiral she is able to find solace, meaning, and even love in the process of making something that she still doesn’t know where exactly it will all end up. The filmmakers could have easily turned her filmmaking process into a source of negative, internal conflict ripe with cynicism and irony that we have all come to expect from entertainment that has and continues to live within a postmodern world, but they instead provide a sense of sentimentality and authenticity to the characters and their stories that is refreshing.
One thing that particularly makes this movie stand apart from other is the integration of classic, Hollywood movies that are redone with Ellie and the other characters of the movie taking the place of the original actors. The viewer will come to understand that, among other things, this movie is also an homage to that time in cinematic history as well. Even though there were scenes that did leave me a bit confused as to how they exactly fit into the larger story because there were those moments that were reimagined that weren’t apart of any actual, specific shoot that the characters were doing; however, after having more time to really sit and think about it, I see how those moments, if anything, add to the sense of nostalgia and longing that I know is present throughout the movie.
This movie is different and it is strange. There is almost this kind of aloofness to it that I can’t quite put my finger on but can sense. So, for that reason I know that it’s not necessarily for everyone. There are also times when things felt a little too scripted; lines felt a little too forced and the execution of others sometimes fell a bit flat. The movie is also on the slower side, but all in all there was something that was still quietly intriguing about the whole experience that I would say if you’re open to that you should give it a chance, if you’re able to.
My Art releases in theaters January 12, 2017