Icarus Films // 2010 // 86 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daryl Loomis // January 27th, 2013
I have ten thousand people that like me.
Kati Genthner is a normal, happy rural teenager from Northern Alabama who is just days away from graduating high school. As she prepares for this big moment in her life, she must contend with her emotions about separating from her friends, as well as the idea of moving to North Carolina, to the big city, with her parents, who moved there three months earlier for work and are returning for the ceremony and to take Kati back with them. Meanwhile, she can't bear the idea of leaving her 21-year-old boyfriend, who isn't sure he can drop his whole life and leave town with her.
Three days in the life of a teenage girl reminds me why I have no interest in ever spending much time with teenagers. It's not that Kati is a bad person, far from it. She's perfectly nice, seems intelligent, and appears socially well-adjusted. I'm sure her friends love her and her boyfriend, though he would certainly not be my first choice for my daughter's boyfriend, seems to genuinely care about her. The trouble is that, in the case almost all teenagers, there's a certain vapidity that they simply must be grown out of, and Kati has yet to do that by the time of this film. I don't want to hang out with them and watching Kati with an i comes way to close to that for my taste.
The documentary, which was directed by Robert Greene (Owning the Weather), Kati's older step-brother, is heartfelt and kind to its subject, although the camera must have been pretty intrusive during such an emotional time. Greene mostly footage from these three days, mixing it up from time to time with footage he shot of Kati when she was much younger, reading poetry, running around, and singing. In that way, Kati with an i is a genuinely lifelong labor of love that culminates in the biggest change the subject has made to date.
For all of that, though, there's very little narrative at work in the film. Its intimacy and emotional content remind me more strongly of an extremely detailed home movie than a real documentary. It shows things, but says little, and there is no resolution to the story in any way. That might not matter as much if the content held more interest, but it's a lot of crying, a lot of talk of Kati not wanting to leave her boyfriend, and not a whole lot else. I imagine those more nostalgic than I will find things to like about this small, quiet documentary.
The DVD for Kati with an i arrives from Icarus in a barebones edition. The image, which comes from footage of a variety of times, is mostly mixed, but it looks good for a low budget documentary. The transfer is fine and the colors are decent, but there isn't much to it. Likewise, the sound is always solid, but the stereo mix lacks any dynamics. There are no extras on the disc.
It's been a very long time since I packed up and left my Oregon home for the faraway Southwest and, while I'm sure there was some reticence on my part, it's a part of my life that I have no interest in revisiting. Not because it wasn't an important event, but because it wasn't very interesting to anybody except for me (and, probably, my mom), which is essentially how I feel about Kati with an i.
Sweet girl, dull movie. Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Icarus Films
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site