At the intersection of grief, faith, punk-rock music, and finding one’s voice lives the imperfect but very engaging I Am That. Written and directed by Joy Marzec, this comedy-drama-adventure-road trip movie opens at a convent, where Sister Skylar (Amielynn Abellera) lives. She seems happy, though she does give in to certain temptations at night. However, when she’s informed of her sister’s death, she resolves to walk to the grave. Mother Abbess (Jane Jones) gives the young lady eight days to get there and back.
Shoeless and with just her habit, Skylar sets out to put her grieving heart and wandering mind to rest. Meanwhile, Mickey (Sage Owens) receives a message from his mom. She’s found a new place to stay, and things are finally looking up for her. This incentivizes the almost teenager to go and meet her for the first time. Shortly after they both have begun their respective journeys, Skylar and Mickey meet. Both in need of help, they decide to go together.
“Shoeless and with just her habit, Skylar sets out to put her grieving heart and wandering mind to rest.”
It is not long before they meet vagabond Tamas (Matteo Jones Scammell), who is trying to get to the same area as the other two to visit his dying father. Reluctantly, Tamas agrees to go with them, despite his distaste for Skylar’s holier-than-thou attitude about faith and praying. Along the way, they meet some religion-hating free-thinkers, three con artists who extort money from them and learn a whole lot about themselves.
Any movie that begins with a nun flogging herself while repeating her various sins, set to a punk rock guitar riff, immediately grabs my attention. Any film that can sustain that style for the entire time it’s on has my respect. Marzec’s debut film (short or feature-length), requires both attention and respect. Attention as a lot of crucial details are told visually, in long sequences without dialogue. On her journey, Skylar has several hallucinatory nightmares that directly relate her vices, that involve fake-looking monsters, crazy lighting, and quick, close-up edits. It is an excellent way to tell the audience how she’s feeling without resorting to needless exposition.
"…any movie that begins with a nun flogging herself...set to a punk rock guitar riff, immediately grabs my attention."