Michel Gondry's latest film, The We and the I, follows the bus ride home on the last day of high school before the summer break. Brimful of teenagers with their loud energy and careless behaviour, an adult passenger might think it a ride from hell. But scratch a little below the surface and you'll find a kaleidoscope of emotions and a group of personalities that are real and true.
There are several groups on the bus. Michael is one of a group of boys who sit at the back and try to impose themselves on everyone else. Teresa sits with them but, having just come back from a month's absence, feels like an outsider. Laidy, popular and pretty, holds court at the front of the bus. In between are the loner Alex, gay couple Luis and Brandon who widely accepted by their peers but who are struggling with their relationship, a group of musicians, an art student and a gaggle of girls. Buoyed by their excitement for the summer break, everyone is talking. Sex and relationships are, unsurprisingly, the main topics. However, as the bus empties and the sky starts to darken, a more sober mood descends on the remaining riders, and vulnerabilities and uncertainties start to surface.
This film evolved out of a workshop that Gondry did as part of an afterschool arts program. The actors, by and large non-professionals, mostly play characters with their own names and one suspects that many of the stories in the film are drawn from real life. The film feels almost like a documentary but with the benefit of a distilled narrative. The careless cruelty and jangly energy of adolescence are perfectly captured along with its confusion, anxiety and hopefulness. Depsite the fact that the camera almost never leaves the bus, the film has a breadth and depth that is remarkable.
The We and the I
Saturday September 15th, 2012
Written by Pauline Dong
A native Torontonian, Pauline enjoys much that the city has to offer, especially in the areas of food and drink. She is also an enthusiastic traveller and explorer of other cultures. A self-described film geek, her interest in movies was first piqued by the early works of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai. More a fan than a critic, she invites your thoughts on the films in her articles.