This is an independent movie that I was asked to review by the people who made it (or at least the movie’s twitter account asked me). I don’t really go searching for super-indie movies to review, because the two times I said “yes” to reviewing one, I gave them unflattering reviews.
So… when someone asks me to review their independent movie, I tell them very clearly that I will not hesitate to write a bad review if I don’t like their film. Every single time, they tell me to do it anyway, and currently, every time I have written a bad review, my relationship with the maker / director takes a nosedive.
So anyway, here’s my review of “People”.
If you want to watch this movie, it is available on Amazon Prime. You can also follow this link to their website to find other ways to watch it.
People is a film that follows five different stories that are, for the most part, detached from one another until the ending.
I am going to talk about the first four stories altogether, and then address the fifth one separately. Because boy oh boy, do I need to talk about the fifth one separately.
All four initial stories have different scenarios, but they all kind of boil down to the same thing: two or more people sitting down and talking. The movie is very dialogue heavy.
All of these begin with an interesting premise that are all ultimately weighed down by extremely stilted and inorganic dialogue.
In the middle of every single scenario, the discussion usually devolves into a character spouting out some sort of political stance in a very transparent manner… be it the disparities between baby boomers and generation X, homosexuality and gay rights, Muslims and the wars in the Middle East, and finally the idea of God and general morality.
All of it is very, VERY on-the-nose, which could be mildly forgivable if the dialogue wasn’t so awkward the vast majority of the time. Almost every single scenario has semblances of good dialogue, but it ALWAYS turns into unsubtle preaching. What’s worse is that they do so at the expense of the flow of conversation.
When normal people talk, dialogue is usually used to expand and/or follow up on each other’s thoughts, actions and reactions. But in this movie, people often inorganically drop the entire conversation just to make some other point, and the entire thing just comes off as unnatural and/or insincere. It made it feel like the film was significantly more interested in spouting out ideologies than it was creating organic, interesting characters.
Almost every story ends abruptly with either some sort of shock, or some sort of joke. And most of the humor in this movie doesn’t land well.
I mean, I did laugh at the movie quite a bit, but it was because of just how in-your-face much of the dialogue was. It wasn’t quite “Christian Mingle: The Movie” obvious… but it got dangerously close.
As for the acting in this movie, story 1 through 3 all had relatively decent acting (even though, again, the script does them absolutely no favors). The actors in story 4 were TERRIBLE. It was by far the most grueling part of the movie to sit through.
So now, let’s talk about the fifth story. The fifth story is different; it’s an irate film director who’s at a debauchery-filled party, and he has to call some “evil corporate movie executives” (not their words, but that’s basically what they are). What follows is the most transparent thing I have ever seen a movie do.
This character is literally standing in for the actual director in this movie. They aren’t even shy or subtle about this. And the “evil corporate movie executives” are telling him why his “script” (which obviously made up the previous segments we saw) is unsellable to a mainstream audience. They speak in purposely pompous tones about how his movie needs a “story” with “character arcs”. The director gets mad and goes on a tirade about how movies these days are so formulaic, and how there needs to be new ideas, and how his movie is about every day people, and stuff about revolutions, etc.
I’m with you, man. I see about 80 to 100 movies in theaters every year now, and I can tell you that many movies are formulaic and they keep recycling old ideas. But if you want to preach that to your audience in such an obvious manner, maybe you shouldn’t make a terrible movie that is absolutely full of itself to say it.
And this movie is full of itself. It thinks it’s significantly smarter and funnier than it actually is.
All of the characters in this movie act more like ideas, like agenda deliverers, than actual living, breathing human beings (which is odd for a movie to do when it’s called “People”). This being paired up with most of the acting being kind of meh really makes for an unpleasant experience.
Then the final scene happens, where all the characters from all the stories come in, and after a few moments of things getting out of hand, the movie takes the piss out of itself and essentially undoes everything.
I swear, the balls on this movie.
This whole back-handed thing is kind of respectable, and I thought it was amusing and comical. It was the only time that I laughed un-ironically at the movie. It’s a shame that the rest of this movie is awful.
Some minor notes:
There’s a lot of scenes where the shot is cut up into different takes, breaking continuity, and I honestly don’t know why they decided to do that. It doesn’t add any value to the movie and it was always distracting.
There’s a few moments where the movie gets really meta and lets you know that, “Guys, this is actually a movie, not real life.” And none of it was executed well.
There is almost no soundtrack in this movie. The one piece of music that plays during the actual story was during the “irate director” bit, and it was laughably self-aggrandizing.
The lighting in this movie is actually really nice. It was probably the best thing in the entire film (except for maybe the ending).
None of the cinematography was all that interesting.
So while I can say this movie is certainly unconventional, it’s unfortunately not very good. It delves into hot button topics by stumbling through unconvincing dialogue. It tries to be simultaneously deep and meaningless, but it only succeeds at being the latter.
I don’t really recommend this movie, BUT it’s certainly out of the norm. If the idea of it sounds interesting to you, and you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can see it for free, so give it a shot, and tell me what you think.