Let me begin by saying that I have always been a fan of Breckin Meyer. The fact that he is the star of The Enormity of Life intrigued me, as I hadn’t personally seen him in anything for quite a while. I’m glad to say after watching him here, his performance is excellent. It just so happens that the character he plays is the most depressing person on Earth… I mean the most depressed person on Earth.
We first meet Casey after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. As he’s hanging from a light fixture and then falling to the ground, he receives a voicemail from an attorney’s office. Next, we see him talking to the lawyer, discovering that he just inherited a large sum of money from an estranged great aunt. This does not change Casey’s tune. This dude is depressed through it all, and we soon begin to understand a reason why. His mother is a bipolar schizophrenic and tried to kill him eleven times. Casey’s worried that this is what will become of him.
Enough of that for now, as Casey meets a waitress who has actually been his neighbor for years. Her name is Jess (Emily Kinney), and she has an incredibly terrible boss who keeps giving her grief. Casey ends up knocking him to the ground, getting Jess fired. Casey feels like he owes her, so he pays off her grimy boss to get her job back. Their friendship grows, and Casey picks up Jess’ daughter Jules (Giselle Eisenberg), who is obsessed with school shootings and gun violence statistics. She has enough anxiety for an army of adults. Jess can’t afford to send her to a therapist.
“…[Casey] just inherited a large sum of money from an estranged great aunt.”
If it seems like I’m rattling on about the plot a lot, it’s because there is a lot of story to rattle on about. The Enormity of Life is ambitious in exploring so many different facets of mental illness, but it could have probably benefitted from being more focused on its delivery. There’s a lot of information, events, and talking—a lot of talking and telling and not as much showing. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy certain aspects of the film. Giselle Eisenberg’s performance as Jules is amazing. She could seriously be going places in the industry, at least I hope so. She is fantastic. I think that the script was well executed but that it could have been about ten pages shorter.
The thing that really made me upset about The Enormity of Life is how co-writers Eric Swinderman, who also directs, and Carmen DeFranco chose to end it. I’m sure that other people will like it and say that it is a subversion of usual narrative tropes. I get where they’re coming from, but the movie makes you think that everything’s going hunky-dory at a certain point, and then it depresses the hell out of you. There’s a time and place for stuff like that, but I don’t know that the switch totally works here or makes total sense. It’s extremely sad.
However, the film does somehow manage to be funny in parts, which is its saving grace. I don’t think you should NOT see this movie. It’s a high-quality, intelligent, well-written film. It is just a very big drag and isn’t something to play at parties. Go in knowing that, and you won’t be disappointed.