I wrote my first novel when I was 17. It was something of a jumbled mess that was written after my first real heartbreak at the hands of Tracy. It was originally a nigh-autobiographical summation of all that she had done to me. But somewhere in the writing of it I could see the various things that I was doing wrong. It was twice damning of Tracy, but it was at least once damning of myself. I had intended to tell the world about Tracy and the things that she had done, but instead I opened my eyes to myself and the things that I had done.
This Is Not A Film is a movie about a movie in the form of a documentary. It’s not nearly as confusing as it sounds. The following review does contain some spoilers, though says no more about the movie than I knew about it going in.
In TINAF, Michael Conner fears that a miscommunication caused his girlfriend to leave him. He has no way of contacting her so he decided to make a movie. A “message in a bottle” as he put it. His hope is that the movie becomes big enough that someone that knows where she is has seen it, will pass along the nature of the misunderstanding, and will perhaps rectify things. This Is Not A Film is the movie that he made, wherein he talks about her and what happens and works with an annoyed actress friend at re-enacting noteworthy points in his relationship with Grace. Oh, and there’s this thing called A Laughing Circle, which is sort of the opposite of a Fight Club.
The metafictional pretense notwithstanding, I found the movie immensely enjoyable. I typically enjoy movies that set out to be about one thing and become something else entirely. The idea behind the movie is that Michael Connor needs to find and explain himself to Grace. But with the help of his refreshingly blunt and amusing actress friend Nadia, it becomes a re-evaluation of his story. As he himself puts it later in the movie, it’s amazing how when you look back at a relationship a lot of the things that you thought were huge really weren’t and some of a relationship’s most pivotal moments can fly under the radar.
I almost completely missed one of the most pivotal moments of my relationship with Eva, the last serious girlfriend I had before meeting Clancy. We were in an argument about something that was very, very important (so much so I haven’t a clue what it was) when she said, exasperated, “this would all be a lot easier if you were having fun.”
It flew over my head at the time. Who was she to tell me not to be pissed off?! She was in the wrong and since she couldn’t defend her actions (and she couldn’t, that I do remember) she was trying to change the subject or evade… something. But that was ultimately the most profound thing that she could have said. We’d both have been a lot better off if I just could have absorbed that. No, the relationship’s failure was not my fault, but my misery sure was.
One of my favorite exchanges is when Nadia objects to some of the lines she’s given because she considers them to be juvenile and stupid. He reiterates that they’re re-enacting something that actually happened. To which she replies “That makes them stupid twice!”
I know that a lot of events in my life that I wish I could rewrite. I couldn’t rewrite what ended up happening, of course, but you ever find yourself thinking about your own stupid behavior and think “That was unavoidably a bad situation, but surely I could have thought of a better way to handle it than that?!” Periodically I’ll get caught in negative feedback loops where I think only of such situations. Stupid things I said into the void that the void spits back at me at the most inopportune times.