Green is one of those movies that reminds me why I dislike modern art. There’s a scene in the film where one of the characters starts explaining installation art to another, and a third says something to the effect of, “Don’t. She won’t understand it.” That’s kind of how I felt about the movie. Maybe you need to be on some higher plane of artistic existence in order to “get” what’s going on and piece together the ridiculously disjointed scenes.
Then again, maybe there’s just nothing to “get.”
Director: Sophia Takal
Release Date: TBD
Green tells the story of Sebastian (Lawrence Michael Levine) and Genevieve (Kate Lyn Sheil), a Brooklyn couple who go into the woods down in some Southern state (probably Virginia) because Sebastian’s been hired to blog about subsistence farming. Robin (Sophia Takal), their mildly attractive female neighbor, passes out on their lawn and ends up wedging herself into their life. At first, Robin and Genevieve seem to be pretty happy with each other. Since Sebastian’s so busy working (and failing) at being a farmer, the two women, presumably, have plenty of time to bond. Then, Robin decides to help out Sebastian because he is terrible at farming, which causes Genevieve to become unjustifiably jealous and have extremely over-exposed visions of Robin and Sebastian having sex.
The most immediate problem with the film is the length. It’s 73 minutes long, and it’s not nearly enough. Takal tries to have her cake and eat it too by using very long individual scenes in a very short film. It doesn’t work. The entire thing is incredibly disjointed, and (especially as it nears the end) there is no sense of how the scenes all fit together. Early in the film, Genevieve says they are going to be staying in the area for six months to a year, but it’s never clear how long they are actually there. The entire thing may very well take place over the course of a few days or several months. I honestly don’t know, and that’s a problem. The only real way to know that time is passing at all is when the screen is momentarily filled with foliage.
The entire film seems like it was improvised. There are constant pauses, corrections, and restarts in dialogue, and what they are saying is oftentimes completely inconsequential. My favorite moment is when Robin says that they built a tree, recants it, and throws in, “Obviously you can’t build a tree!” As I think about it, Robin in the one who has the most problems speaking, so perhaps it was done to make her seem even less intelligent in the face of Genevieve, who reads really big books and wants to go see some installation artist back in New York (things only intelligent people do, I guess). Even so, she isn’t the only one who screws up, and I really hope that at least some of the dialogue was improvised, because there were times that it was pretty painful to listen to.
Speaking of listening, the music is some of the most inappropriate I can think of in a film. It sounds like something from an old alien invasion movie. I thought that the movie was going to be a horror movie at the beginning because of the soundtrack, and every time it started up again it removed me from the experience. The music is fine, but it’s in the wrong movie.
Visually speaking, the film ranges from pretty cool to pretty boring. There are a lot of long takes (which I have no problem with), but they are generally kind of confusing. There is one in particular, a really wide shot of an outdoor market that I spent at least fifteen seconds trying to find out where the main characters were. The sound was part of that, because there doesn’t appear to have been any mixing. Even though they were way in the back corner of the screen, it sounded like it was from right in front of the camera, so I was looking in the wrong spot. Other times, though, it was pretty and that was nice. So there was that.
As I made clear in the opening, I don’t know what Sophia Takal was trying to say when she made the movie, although it’s pretty clear that she had a message of some kind. The film is opaque in all of the wrong ways. The ending comes out of absolutely nowhere, tying off nothing and leaving absolutely everything open to questioning, which is a terrible way to do anything. Questions are fine, but there need to be some answers too, and there weren’t.
Despite all that, I didn’t hate the movie. I think its short length had something to do with it. It’s much easier to forgive something that’s an hour and thirteen minutes than something that’s two hours or longer. I don’t know that I would say the movie is worth seeing, but I imagine there are people who will find Green’s incomprehensibility kind of endearing.
As an interesting but unrelated aside, the main characters are played by Takal, her fiance, and her roommate, which creates a really awkward tension for everyone aware of that. Also, there are moments of dialogue (scripted or not) where it really seems like Takal is just complimenting herself (there’s the line heavily featured in the trailer about her being really pretty). Maybe she wasn’t, but that and the scene where Genevieve calls Sebastian stupid about 20 times gave me the vibe that they were things she wanted to say about reality rather than as part of her film. Take that for what you will.