The We and the I is an American film from 2012 by Michel Gondry (The Green Hornet, Mood Indigo). The film follows a group of high school students, in the Bronx, on their bus ride home on the last day of school/beginning of summer vacation. The film tries to encapsulate a microcosm of the high school experience utilizing various character archetypes, such as the bully, to generalize the experience to a certain degree.
The film begins with all the characters leaving school and boarding the bus and viewers are thrown into the deep end of a teenager infested pool. The film is anchored within the geography of the bus with the exception of flashbacks and cutaway stories that are referenced, usually, several times by numerous characters. These segments are shot in a grimy digital style. The narrative is thus conveyed through the main plot-line of the bus ride home and secondary stories/flashbacks and anecdotes which serve a comedic purpose as well as a dramatic one. The main story, on the bus, is shot digitally, specifically on red cameras while the “story” segments are shot using an IPhone camera. The style of the film is consistent with the non-traditional content of the film and the clear, digital aesthetic neatly conveys the look and feel of this realist world. There is synergy between the form and content that is anchored by the naturalistic performances of the actors. While not always giving masterful performances, the nuanced and naturalistic sentiment conveyed through the performance assures a certain level of honesty.
The film is effective but it can take a while to get emotionally invested. The teenagers, as a group are rather loud and are cruel to one another and remind one why it’s really, frankly, awesome not to be a teenager. However once the social groups are fragmented and the movie begins to analyze the actions and reactions of the teens, you begin to understand their motivations and their actions. Beyond the High school drama the story is pretty compelling. The interaction between the characters when stripped from their “clique” is pretty honest and the way they respond to the new environment is realistic. While the film is not perfect it will genuinely hold ones interest and offers an interesting and realistic look at teen life.
This film will be screened by CINSSU at Alumni Hall, at St. Mikes, on Friday September 19th at 7:00 PM as a part of the Free Friday Films (FFF) program. This year’s program was put together by CINSSU FFF programmer Hallie Switzer and Elspeth Arbow.