23 April 2009

Medicine for Melancholy (2008)

I gotta say, for such a great synopses, trailer, buzz, and reviews, I was sorely disappointed. For a film that has been described as a love letter to San Francisco, an exploration of what it means to be black and indie, and (yet another) boy-meets-girl Before Sunrise, I was ready to have my socks knocked off. Instead I found my attention span waning and my annoyance growing.

Here's a few lines from a review: "Micah and Jo are struggling with gentrification of a more personal sort, their identities, relationships, professions and politics all grappling with upward mobility. They soon find themselves on opposite sides of a very personal racial divide... Ideologically they pull and push against each other as they walk, bike and taxi around the city, and this is where much of the movie exists, on street level."

If you got all that from watching Micah and Jo wander around not talking to each other, having too-long music montages of all the important moments where they are connecting, and didn't balk at the lack of motivation or communication involved, then more power to you. I needed more. Close ups of the two of them looking at each other (or away from each other) didn't do it for me.

The only thing working for me was Wyatt Cenac's semi-charisma and Tracey Heggins' really beautiful face. The two leads didn't seem to have enough chemistry together. I didn't feel the heat, you know? Overall I think the movie is more interesting to talk about than to watch, which is kind of a failure, no?

I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more without such high expectations. But then, without high expectations I wouldn't have been driven to catch it the last night it was playing out here.