Somewhere in the middle of Shane McGoey’s People, a reference is made that is most meta and is mostly advice not taken by the filmmaker. A couple is in a car, driving to a hospital. The boyfriend has a foot injury, and the girlfriend is gonna be high on some recently consumed mushrooms, taken off screen. In the midst of discussing everything from their predicament to their relationship and respective lives (plus rudimentary philosophy, coming from some trashy character types that would confuse Freudian Theory with Pixar Theory), the woman makes a remark regarding her significant others’ tendency of “tilting and windmills”. This barefoot drunkard in a sloppy underwear shirt is nothing like Don Quixote, and this referential comment is so out of place for this conversation, it could be examined by the Hubble Telescope. Could this be the “point”? That this couple is so not for each other, that they’re on different intellectual wavelengths? Maybe it is awfully Quixotic for them to pursue a relationship?
No. No to all three questions. People believes it stands above all, not necessarily on a pedestal but perhaps a rather large soap box, angrily shouting about the ills of personal interactions, lack of creativity in Hollywood, corporate takeover of goods, Middle East circumstances, psychiatric care, one night stands…
… hold up. What?
“…no compromise in its heart, nor any blurred vision.”
This is a movie with a lot on its mind, to say the least, and no filter or central goal to say the most. It has all of the mouthiness of Randal Graves but without the wit and craft for story and character driven dialogue of (early) Kevin Smith. It’s a vignette collage of broken and misguided “people”, where on one night, their stories will reflect pain and grief, before a convergence occurs. No, this isn’t part of that Crash rip off sub genre – it’s far too late, if so – but rather an effortful clown car of student level writing on a mission with no end; to change the minds of the world. To be bold and different. To break the mold, so to speak. Many have left film school – graduates or not – with these purposes heavy in their heads. And yet, somewhere, they fall flat.
For all of its detriments and annoyances, People is quite defiantly itself. There’s no compromise in its heart, nor any blurred vision. What you see is what was intended. However, its grand intentions can’t keep pace with its wordy nature, its heavy handed and blunt conversations or its story that feels more like a moebius strip than an elliptical. Over analytical and overtly aggressive, nothing is suggested and no trick is kept within its sleeve. To put it in nerd terms, this is the Hayden Skywalker of independent movies: too impatient and ready to strike before thinking.
There is another sequence, also in the middle, that too is most meta. The filmmaker himself is having a roving phone chat with some studio executives regarding his screenplay. All throughout, he screams and loses his composure to these faceless higher powers, talking at great length about paradigm shifts and martyrdom for cinema. Sir, allow me to call back to that car scene and its Don Quixote moment: Don’t tilt at windmills. At least, not without asking a question or two.
People (2017): Writer and Director: Shane McGoey / Now on VOD and Amazon
1 1/2 out of 5