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An Overexplanation of A Relationship

Thursday 12 April 2012

So we just got out of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. It’s a story-in-a-story, or more like an expansion of a short into a feature, about a young man’s trials and history in trying to win the heart of a girl through documentary filmmaking.

At the core of this film are parts of a short made earlier called “How Would You Feel?”, which asks questions about different minor themes and events in a relationship leading to a relatively innocuous question that turns out to have greater significance at that point in the relationship. I’d like to see that film as it was originally screened, for context.

Surrounding and interwoven with the original film is what I will call filler. It adds (I think; hard to tell sometimes where the original leaves off the new picks up, and vice-versa) more background about the filmmaker’s prior relationships, his background and his girlfriend’s, and a lots and lots of talk.

And this is one of the fundamental problems with the film; it is almost all narration, by two sonorous male voices, the narrator and the filmmaker, and it’s just very hard to listen to that sort of soundtrack for long stretches. From the opening to the first time another voice is heard–the girlfriend’s–is a good 30 minutes, and then we’re back into narration for another 20 or 30 minutes. The vast bulk of the movie has this droning narration, and it’s just too much. In addition to the atonal quality of the narration is the single-sidedness of the view into the relationships, which is just not as interesting as having more than one view, magnified by the lack of audible or visible emotion.

As a well-edited short, this could be an excellent film. There are some very good animations, a use of on-screen text that reminded me of the 1970s television version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a self-analyzing comedic sense that could really work well. And, while the story happens to be about an African-American couple from Brooklyn, there are no racial stereotypes at play; it could be a couple of any race. But as a feature, I felt bloated on the expanded detail, like a pigeon glutted with rice from a wedding.

If this is in your list, you might want to look elsewhere for a rush for a different film. Or be prepared for a film that feels longer than it is.

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