Judge Bill Gibron couldn't agree more with this movie's title sentiment.
NYC eccentrics go nowhere.
It's quite a lineage the daughter of famed painter (and now critically acclaimed filmmaker) Julian Schnabel has. It's also quite a coup to get your circle of fringe dwelling New York artist types (including director Ry Russo-Young) to indulge an entire vanity project centering around you and an idiosyncratically dysfunctional character you've created. It's also quite experimental to enforce a non-linear, almost adlibbed narrative on the viewer, walking them through the various trials and tribulations of a struggling Manhattan actress at her wits' end while bouncing back and forth between a psychiatric interview and her various bed-hopping, shoe-gazing adventures. It's just a shame that You Won't Miss Me doesn't have more to say about the human condition—or in particular, the human condition of being unemployed, unloved, and unable to cope in the Big Apple. Instead, we end up with a snarky and disaffected bit of meandering that can't quite make up its mind about what it wants to be, aside from as unentertaining and insufferable as possible.
Stella Schnabel is Shelly Brown, a twenty-something who has suddenly found herself hospitalized for an unnamed mental condition. As the unseen doctor confirms what she already knows—she doesn't need the nut house—we witness the various vignettes that brought her, potentially, to such a breaking point. Shelly is a wanderer. She slacks and is slacked upon. She meets up with random men, hangs with her platonic male soul mate (who, like almost everyone else in this narrative, plays in an undiscovered "genius" band) and sleeps with anyone who shows her the least amount of attention. Between phone calls to her disinterested mother (who is also an actress, and is almost never available to talk to her child) and the constant push to progress, Shelly stumbles…a lot. In the end, she tries to keep herself grounded with a combination of drugs, drinking, and dour self-pity. Oh joy!
You Won't Miss Me proves one undeniable fact: the mumblecore subgenre of alienated bohos can be boring as hell. Just because you "connect" with these often disaffected and alienated, arrested adolescents doesn't mean that their stories (or lack thereof) are riveting or worth investing in. In fact, you have to be of a certain defeated mindset to see anything that Stella and her pals do as remotely "cool" or contemporary. Instead, they are the urban version of the basement dwelling geeks, obsessed with what they want to fetishize while more or less completely incapable of paying their way through life. Then they start complaining about such lot—endlessly.
As a result, the entirety of You Won't Miss Me feels like a lesson on just-barely-getting-by, whiny West Village style. And because Shelly is so shallow, so lost in a world wanting for anything remotely related to the planet we all play on, you have to be her in order to appreciate her. Of course, almost any viewer won't be. If pointless, made-up conversations about metropolitan malaise were diamonds, You Won't Miss Me would be a girl's best friend. Instead, it's an audiences worst nightmare—a slow, self-indulgent bit of artsy fartsy claptrap. On the plus side, Ry Russo-Young's direction is delightfully anarchic, playing with approach and post-production quirk to bring this material some kind of spark. The film really captures the feel of New York City. Sadly, that's all the texture this tenuous bunk has to offer.
As for the DVD presentation, distributor Factory 25 does a decent job. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is grainy and gritty, but not overly so. Similarly, the colors can occasionally go flat and featureless, but one imagines that's how Russo-Young wanted it to look. This is a movie that constantly messes with style and cinematic virtues, so don't be surprised if it occasionally goes wonky on you. As for the sound…well, there's not much to mention. The Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 is decent, and that's about it. No real revelation, though the usual indie pop drone as a musical score works well here. Finally, the added content consists of a couple of essays and some extended improv "interviews" with Stella as Shelly, Q&A's that formed the basis of the film itself. They are interesting, if not necessarily revelatory.
There will be some who see this film as a nuanced look into the lives of people living along the fringes of fame and individual success. For the rest, the title sentiment says it all.
Guilty. Glib and emotionally detached.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Factory 25
• Extended Interviews
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