The Opposite of Sex (h2so4 11)
film by Don Roos
While this film contained some moments and some observations worthy
of witnessing, for the most part it was sabotaged by the narrative
device used to communicate the story. I'm sorry, but the "ultimate
power of the narrator" self-consciousness technique is fine for
the end of Wayne's World but annoying in most every other context
(one notable exception being The Usual Suspects, though its usage
of the technique is so different from this film that comparison
is not useful). The bratty ignorant young girl who tells the story
constantly refers to us, the viewers, and solicits our "advice,"
changes the way events happen after the fact with a quick, "right,
like that's how it happened," etc. Seems too much like an attempt
to be cute, or worse, cutesy, and fails.
I admit that the device of using a bratty ignorant girl is new.
Not often does one find a female voice narrating a film. And certainly
it is rare to allow a narrative voice to be bigoted and irrational
in this climate of faux political correctness, much of the narrative
observation in this film would be censored if p.c.'s champions
had the power. That is the aspect of this film's choice of storytelling
that I found most interesting, and most liberating. Not that a
new slew of films featuring ignorance-as-excuse narration styles
would change the world. But any step away from the fakeness of
what politically correct speech truly is permission to think whatever
you want as long as you don't say it out loud seems like a good
step to take, to me. And being offended by a film's speech can
be as uplifting or inspiring as being directly inspired to behave
as a film heroine has.
The good parts, beyond my concern with narrative device, by the
way (and I am not one to analyze films in this manner usually
it is not that I pick communication techniques for analysis, but
that it is impossible to watch this film without being conscious
of what the narrator wants to do to you), are the observations
about love and the nature of human relationships. There are some
deep moments, some deeply funny moments, and, who knew, Lisa Kudrow
can play a role not scripted for a dingbat. And then there's hunk-man
Martin Donovan, who seems lately to have been character-actor-slotted
to play only homosexual protagonists when he's not in Hal Hartley
films. He's always good. And you won't forget Lyle Lovett as the
odd and concerned local sheriff.
This reminds me that the only thing I like about Titanic was its
narrative-telling technique. I thought it handled the storytelling,
and the shifts from "present" to "past" very gracefully, and with
interest. If only the story to be told had been something more.
But I guess most everyone who goes to see Titanic goes to see
the embodiment of all that money spent (both on the ship "The
Titanic," and on the movie purportedly made "about" it), the effect
of a big ship sinking, and lots of people freezing and drowning.
Love stories with big special effects insure a big audience, because
conventional men and ladies on dates can agree on a movie without
having to agree on anything in it. The Opposite of Sex is nothing
so easy as that, and this is its highest "virtue." It is not a
date movie, unless your idea of a date is more interesting than
the norm. (I hope that it is.)