“The effort of everything to become language…” Audrey unpacks in a hotel to church music, reads family letters in a library research room, then explains the nature of correspondence to someone unseen at a bar – more than halfway through the movie we’ll finally see this person, Audrey’s translator, who has a different take on the letters. Aunt Anya has a different take on Audrey’s entire project, having donated the letters in the first place, apparently without permission, and saying Audrey isn’t a proper curator. After the relative stillness of the previous films, this disagreement counts as a major action scene.
Revelations in the Cinema Scope cover story: Campbell was improvising some of the stories about her grandmother to the unseen translator. Nayman frames it well, the hook being that Canadian films don’t have sequels, then building up to the evolution from Never Eat Alone through Veslemøy’s Song to this one.
Campbell: One thing that I’m really excited about is that in the next film with Audrey we’re going to give her a friend.
Bohdanowicz: She needs a friend.
Also watched her short The Hardest Working Cat in Showbiz (2020). Dan Sallitt doesn’t have as good a narrator voice as Deragh Campbell, but tells a good story, tracing the film appearances of a cat who appeared in Tourneur’s Stranger on Horseback and supposedly many other movies over decades.
None of the critics I follow can say anything against this movie, since they all had cameo roles in it, so allow me be the truth-teller who finally declares that this movie is… really good. I fell hard for Sallitt’s The Unspeakable Act and lead actress Tallie Medel, so it’s no wonder that I’d warm up to this one, which lands in a different way. It jumps casually forward in time through two women’s lives, like a more devastating Bob Byington story, until the weight of accumulated details hits hard in the back half of the movie – hard enough that going through the screenshots has made me emotional, and I have no further comment, even though my notes say I’m supposed to reread the thing in Cinema Scope 78 after watching this.
Another talky, low-budget incest drama. Sallitt’s style is closer to Lena Dunham’s in Tiny Furniture (or a more naturalistic Wes Anderson) than to the indie dramas I’ve watched lately by Azazel Jacobs and Alex Ross Perry. The dialogue is well written and hilarious, and the image is super clean. And unlike the Jacobs and Perry movies, this one is fully engrossing, with a terrific lead performance.
Jackie is in love with her brother Matthew, who is leaving for college soon. She talks with her brother, with her mom (who is somewhat vacant and removed, has a mysterious past), with her therapist – there’s a lot of talking, and no music. She has sex with some hat-wearing dude at school who seems to barely care about her after her brother tells her about his girlfriend Yolanda (whom Jackie grudgingly likes). Jackie calls her desire “the unmentionable act,” never quite saying the title.
D.S. taken out-of-context from a Gorilla interview:
To me, movies are photographs and are therefore about the outside of things, surfaces that we can’t see past. .. I think I’m just trying to increase the sum total of mystery in the world, trying to hit the viewer with some fact that conveys forcibly how little access we have to people’s inner lives.
Amazing: Sallitt might turn this into a trilogy, though he’s not optimistic about finding the funding to make part three, so maybe not. Guess I didn’t realize how much I loved the movie until I read that news and couldn’t make myself stop smiling.
But what’s perhaps most striking about the film is that, despite being narrated in reflective voice-over by Jackie and more or less totally confined to her point of view, she remains something of a mystery throughout, seemingly unknowable no matter how close to her the movie encourages us become. This isn’t a failure of the film — as Sallitt describes her himself, Jackie is designed to be “fundamentally an unsolvable puzzle” despite being “wrapped in layers of plausible-looking psychology.”