Sunday, August 05, 2012

Bumblefuck, USA

This is the kind of movie that I strongly suggest you read about it before watching as has a narrative style that is not easy to follow. As some of you know I don't like to read about movies before watching so almost stop watching as in the beginning narrative is so fragmented that I lost interest, but I kept watching as the little I knew about story kept me curious to find what this debut film by Aaron Douglas Johnston was all about. I'm glad I did as yes, eventually I got inside the movie, kept my interest and what I saw stayed for a long time after watching.

As there is not much info about the movie will share some info about the director that could help you to set your mind in the right direction to what you will see. Aaron Douglas Johnston was born and raised in Iowa, studied sociology in Oxford and Yale and found his way into filmmaking in Amsterdam where he has made numerous short films. So even when this movie is in English, set in an unnamed Iowa small town and telling an apparently American story, we can say that basically is not an American Indie as not only has a Dutch crew but style is definitively European and yes, is quite unconventional.

For starters film mixes narrative with documentary as includes interviews with real gay/lesbian people that live in Iowa. These people tell their real-life experiences and interviews are shown randomly along the movie. Then there is a very unconventional narrative that tells the story of Alexa and I say that's unconventional as is mainly told by images not dialogue making it not easy to follow in the beginning, but once you realize style becomes not only easier to follow but quite interesting. Still, I believe director should have worked better the editing to allow viewers to get inside movie faster.

Story is written by Johnston and Cat Smits, who is also the lead as she plays Alexa, and tells a compelling story about Dutch Alexa that takes a trip to a small Iowa town hoping to uncover the reasons that led her gay friend Matt to take his own life. In this quest she has intentions to make a film about what it must be like to be gay/lesbian in Bumblefuck, USA. Two key facts, movie name is slang to "in the middle of nowhere" and story is an homage to Johnston real-life cousin who committed suicide after coming out as gay in his Iowa hometown. So even when movie tells the story of Alexa actually is a vision of what is to be gay/lesbian in small town America, a theme that definitively hasn't been explored much in movies -at least without a crime committed- much less with a positive end and a non-commercial style.

But there is more to say about story. First it is important to have in mind that Alexa is Dutch and her background makes her have behaviors that are very far from small town Americans, especially her vision about life and sex. She might or might not find what led Matt to commit suicide but definitively she discovered more about herself than she could ever have imagined and is not about being lesbian, is about being a human being. Okay, I'm having trouble trying to tell what her story is all about and not telling spoilers, but will say that Alexa's story is absolutely with lesbian interest and is not the usual movie in the genre at all. One word of caution, film includes a scene of sexual assault which might not be suited for all genre viewers.

Definitively film is not simple and yes could be complex, not only because how story -or stories- is told but also for the style and even if at moments looks and feels like one of those not so successful lesbian interest European movies that try so hard to be art, in general movie as a movie is acceptable with above average production values, good performances and directing. But above all, movie is quite an unexpected cinematic experience that could stay with you for a while after finishing watching.

I believe movie is must be seen for those that like the lesbian interest genre but be prepared to see a very unusual narrative in the genre. Also film may be suited for gay viewers and yes, general adult audiences that like European arty films with unusual stories.

Film surprised me as never imagined from story, credentials and awful trailer that could be as interesting as it was; still, I do believe that if I had more and better information about movie I could have enjoyed film a lot more since the very beginning. Yes, I will watch it again as I'm sure will see details that I wasn't able to see before writing about it.


Watch trailer @MOC

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