A group of college friends congregates after one of their own attempt suicide.
Trigger Warning(s): Suicide
Review (with Spoilers)
It is very weird to see a film about suicide. If just because, to a certain degree, it forces you to realize how odd of a subject it is to approach. Like in the film, we watch Jason Ritter’s character, post-suicide attempt, gain this weird peaceful look. A look which reminds you that suicide is caused by many things, but part of the reason comes from a call for help unanswered. Sometimes by friends or even a higher power. Leading to the question: is this film worth seeing or perhaps it should be skipped?
Characters & Story
After having a bit of a downward spiral due to finances, among other things, Alex (Jason Ritter) decided to slit his wrists. Something he seemed to regret doing for he calls an ambulance for himself, as well as his friend Ben (Nate Parker) (1) who orchestrates a meeting of all of Alex’s old friends. This includes Josh (Max Greenfield), a bitter PHD candidate who seems to hate everything and everyone, though probably fears his own company for too long; Siri (Maggie Grace) who is Ben’s current girlfriend, the girl Josh wanted before Ben met her; Sarah (Aubrey Plaza), who is an attorney who Josh messed around with since he couldn’t have Siri; Isaac (Max Minghella) who is the richest of the group and often clashes with Josh; and then, focusing on Ben, Ben is the one who introduced Alex to everyone and seems to be Alex’s rock. Though not when he was in a deep need for his friendship.
Leading us on what may feel like a familiar journey of college friends having a reunion, thanks to tragedy, in which their romantic entanglements come out; a lot of sex and drama happens, and ultimately you are left with a sense of hope for the characters but aren’t sure if it may last.
When it comes to this movie, I was really only familiar with Aubrey Plaza and Max Greenfield, who both really present themselves as actual actors, and oddly enough didn’t approach their roles as one character fits all. Something which sort of shocked me, especially for Plaza, for it showed she had range. Aside from those two I must admit no one else really stood out, but they did present an interesting story and will keep you interested throughout. If just because you’ll likely feel most of the characters are developed to the point where perhaps only Siri feels underdeveloped. Ben is a writer whose life isn’t how he wants, and now has Siri who he loves, but is sort of growing apart from; Josh looks at Ben as this golden child who got everything he wanted, including things Josh himself wanted; Sarah is professionally successful, but romantically a mess; and Isaac we don’t learn a huge amount about, but with his girlfriend Kate (Jane Levy) joining him, and through his interactions with Sarah, while his background may not be developed, through his relationships with Sarah and Kate we do get to know and understand him. Also, I should note, Levy’s character, despite not being central to the story, is certainly interesting since she plays a 22 year old, just getting her career started, who is around a bunch of late 20 year somethings who are jaded, in their careers, and she is the outsider dating one of their friends.
As confrontational as Josh is in the film about Alex’s suicide, I feel that this film for some reason glazes over Alex’s suicide just a bit too much so that everyone else’s drama can get established and developed. With this though, Alex just becomes a catalyst for bringing everyone together and is largely forgotten about. And truly, after watching the film, only Sarah and Josh really stand out and everyone else strangely feel like their co-stars. Part of the reason is because Josh says things which get your attention, and Sarah is presented as more human than anyone in the film. For, in my opinion, as much as everyone does get the chance to be developed, between the information being boring, and their delivery not really getting my attention anyway, it really makes it so the film seems to sit on Plaza and Greenfield’s shoulders.
Like with Ben and Siri, they are made interesting due to Josh’s jealousy, but take that away Josh from them and they lose any of their draw. The same goes for Isaac and Kate to a point, if Sarah wasn’t pining over Isaac since she sees him as the one who she should have been with, then they also lose a lot of what kept them relevant. Though, again, the biggest victim is Alex since after his suicide attempt, pretty much Josh’s callous ways, and Sarah trying to dote on him, are the sole reminders that what brought everyone together was him.
Overall: TV Viewing
Perhaps this maybe wrong to say, but in light of recent events I was hoping this film would really explore what leads a person to suicide and also how it effects the survivors in terms of the guilt associated with them perhaps being capable of preventing the suicide attempt, as well as trying to work with the person if they live. And while those topics are mentioned, they get drowned out in everyone’s personal drama to the point you wonder why this movie is called About Alex when in truth it is more about everyone but him. Though, even with that said, this was a good movie to me and is very watchable. But, with it not really hitting the topic of suicide hard, and letting the would-be supporting characters end up the stars, I have to say this film deserves the “TV Viewing” label.
Things To Note
- Throughout the movie, I got a serious vibe that Alex romantically liked Ben.
“I’m sorry, but maybe I’d rather be in the fucking dark as to what people are up to than mistake some false level of intimacy for friendship.”
— About Alex