One Percent More Humid lacks investment in its tragedy to the point it makes the survivor’s tears for naught.
Director: Liz W. Garcia
A car crash in the spring (March to be specific) is what set everything in motion. In said crash, Mae (Olivia Luccardi), the best friend of Iris (Juno Temple) and Catherine (Julia Garner), died. She was this sort of working-class girl who hanged out with these upper-class girls and was the “slutty one” of the group. Yet, at the same time, she was fun, affectionate, and didn’t deserve to die. So the two girls who survived and abandoned her, while still possibly alive, they are left with the guilt.
Of which, the summer reunites the survivors who find each other’s company to be a reminder of what was done. Thus leading them both to try to bury fraught memories with sex. For Catherine, she has sex with Mae’s brother to fight off guilt, say she is sorry, or maybe because, before Mae’s death, there was something there. For Iris? She sleeps with her professor.
Leaving you with a story which touches on the girls’ guilt, but doesn’t really deep dive.
Other Noteworthy Moments
Not Enough Mae
One of the main problems of One Percent More Humid is Mae we only see in two situations. The first being when the girls, and some boys, are going to the lake Mae loves, and then Mae after being shot out of Catherine’s car and dying. This leads to the vibe that we are expected to care about Mae simply because she died. Much less, feel bad for her friends because they survived.
However, it is so difficult to do so because we don’t get to know Mae ourselves. With just two scenes, broken up to see Mae multiple times, we don’t get to see her as this vibrant girl. This working-class girl who, for one reason or another, ended up friends with these well-off girls. All we know of her is she was supposedly slutty. So slutty that the girls joke about being possessed by her spirit, hence their sexcapades in the movie.
By The Way, Why Are You Having Sex With Them?
Sometimes I really do get the feeling, even with this film being written and directed by a woman, that sex is made to compensate for plot. Take Iris and Gerald (Alessandro Nivola), Iris’ professor. That whole storyline dealing with them having an affair doesn’t really make sense. One could argue that is how she is coping with her summer since Catherine reminds her of Mae, but that is a tough argument to make. If only because, there is no real depth or emotion in that relationship. Like a lot of characters Temple has played in the past, what we get is almost like a better than most soft-core porn. Her relationship with Gerald, much less Gerald himself, doesn’t lead you to think there is any complexity or something of that nature. It is just about crafting a fantasy. One which doesn’t really go anywhere, you have to push to mean anything, and only is memorable due to its sexual content.
Which can also be said about Billy (Philip Ettinger) and Catherine’s hookup. With there being little to no background given, we are given this weird guilty hookup between a boy and the girl who accidentally killed his sister. And while Garner doesn’t go as far as Temple does with nudity, again there is this weird feeling that the sex can possibly mean something, but you’d have to be a film snob to truly get it.
On The Fence
How To Process Their Guilt?
Everyone grieves differently and sometimes it is hard to accept how some people process things. I’ll give One Percent More Humid that. However, when you start adding in all the factors, it makes it harder and harder to accept these girls’ guilt on face value. For one, there is just this vibe that these two college girls hanged out with Mae because she was just fun. They may say they loved her but with us not getting to see them spend quality time with Mae, share secrets, get advice, what have you, it makes the words seem hollow. As if they are trying to convince us, like everyone else, they feel bad about what happened.
Of which, neither Greener nor Temple really do. What we get is all words and makeup. We can hear how Catherine was on suicide watch, see how she burns herself and gives her body over to Billy to apologize. For Iris, she gets into morose poetry, perhaps channels Mae and decides to sleep with her professor in homage. Maybe to really see or feel like a terrible person.
Yet, no matter what is done or said, and no matter how much you may need to recognize how you would feel doesn’t mean that is how they should, it is hard to connect. It is hard to connect to the girls, care about their feelings, and to hear Catherine, the one who seems the guiltiest, laugh about having to get a job if her parents lose the civil suit Mae’s family has against her? It makes you hope she drowns in the lake at the end of the movie.
Something which I can’t say if the point was to make us feel angry or not.
Overall: Negative (Skip It)
I’m not going to pretend after the movies of Juno Temple I’ve watched I expect anything besides her being in odd films. However, with Garner, her track record is better so for her to be in something like One Percent More Humid is a disappointment. For with the victim of the film’s death not given meaning and feeling bad for the survivors difficult, as their privilege and joking nature about Mae’s life leaves you perplexed, One Percent More Humid becomes a hard film to get into. Especially when you throw in who the girls have sex with and try to fathom why for reasons besides sex sells.
Hence the Negative label. The writing of the movie creates what I fathom to be unintended ambiguity and even as it pushes to show the leads’ guilt is genuine, you find yourself calling BS. Since there seems to be missing scenes to really be sure whether or not that’s true.