Plot descriptions in reviews are helpful in two specific ways. For the reader, it gives a general idea of what the film is about, allowing for crucial context. For the critic, it freely enables them to choose specific scenes or moments from the film to highlight the positive and negative aspects being discussed without confusion. So, what happens when a plot description is, for lack of a better term, antithetical to the point of the movie? When a movie is more about the experience than the plot, can it be summed up?
X: The Human Condition tells the story of Blue Eyes (Sean Logan) and Brown Eyes (Maggie Wallach). Two souls who feel that there is no else on the planet that understands what they are going through. Of course, there would be no narrative if that remained the case. However, their lives intertwine in unexpected, and occasionally jarring, ways.
“…Nova battled a severe childhood illness, one which brought him to near blindness…protracted health crisis and winding artistic journey”
Writer-director Michael Nova forms one half of the band X: THC (yes, it is an acronym for the title of the movie). Jeet Kune Do master Chris Liang is the other member of the duo. While Liang traveled extensively in his life, it was a meeting of Nova in New York City that sparked their creative spirits. Nova battled a severe childhood illness, one which brought him to near blindness. Happily, Nova is, more or less, fully recovered. This protracted health crisis and winding artistic journey form the basis of X: The Human Condition.
See, this 40-minute tone poem started as a live show. X: THC would play alongside a video montage to create a full-on audio and visual experience that fills the participant up with distinct emotions. Now, the collective experience of attending a concert and the pageantry therein can be a tricky thing to replicate in other forms. So, the main question is, does the movie capture that same momentum and mood?
Luckily for the audience and the intentions of the director, X: The Human Condition is a whirlwind of resonant and intense feelings, wrapped up in gorgeous visuals and fantastic music. While certain scenes, such as Blue and Brown Eyes fading in and out of each others’ mirrors are a bit heavy-handed, most of the film sidesteps such issues. The color palette of blues, whites, and grays are more vibrant than one might expect, and the music is fantastic.
“…the collective experience of attending a concert and the pageantry therein can be a tricky thing to replicate in other forms.”
I must admit that while the sights and sounds on display captured me, I did feel at arm’s length for a while. Near the end, certain elements are revealed that make a lasting impression, as well as a worthwhile rewatch. See, some context of the ideas at play are only discovered at the end, and they imbue the film with that much more power than it held previously.
X: The Human Condition loudly states that no matter what you have been through, you are not alone. There is someone out there who can relate and help you. It tells this much-needed message in an engaging, demanding way making for a compelling, impassioned watch. While there are a few minor issues, they are just that- minor. They do not detract from the talent and sentiment of the project in any meaningful way.
X: The Human Condition (2019) Directed by Michael Nova. Written by Michael Nova, Robert Pawloski. Starring Maggie Wallach, Sean Logan, Ada-Marie Louise Gutierrez, August Gladstone.
9 out of 10 Friends