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People Places Things is very awkward, quite comical, but is it satisfying? Look below to find out.
Characters & Story
After many years together, Will (Jemaine Clement) and Charlie (Stephanie Allynne) end up divorced. Unfortunately, though, the end of their relationship happens on their daughters’ birthday. Thus leading to a year-long period of Will mourning his marriage, as Charlie moves on. She continues her relationship with a man named Gary (Michael Chernus), who she cheated on Will with, and preps for a new marriage and baby.
All the while, despite being in emotional recovery, Will stayed busy. He continues to draw comics, as his means of therapy, and he teaches classes at SVA. Which leads to him meeting an inspiring comic artist named Kat (Jessica Williams). Someone who introduces Will to Diane (Regina Hall), her mother. A person who, if she can deal with Will’s unresolved issues with Charlie, maybe become his girlfriend.
One of the big things which popped with me were the comic strips which represented Will’s life and the state he is in. For while the film doesn’t use mixed media to break down Will’s emotional state, like say An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, it does use Will’s comic talents to help show a different side to him. A side which Clement, as Will, doesn’t fully get to show since Clement plays Will as the most awkward square imaginable. However, paired with the comic strips, Clement finds a way to turn the introverted Will into a complicated being. He exhibits him as an introvert pushing his boundaries as far as possible so that he doesn’t end up stuck between four lines. Lines which ultimately include not just his thoughts, but unsaid feelings, fears, and no means of escape.
Leading to you quickly falling in love with this man who you can see is trying. Be it with his girls, who you can see he deeply loves, or with an ex who comes off annoying and unlikable at first, but with time you eventually get her. Because, at Charlie’s core, it seems the idea of an ideal family is all she wanted. One in which her husband was happy and her kids were happy, but along the way she forgot to make herself happy. Making it so, 6+ years into their relationship, she came to the decision that since Will isn’t taking much initiative into making her happy, she has to perhaps make drastic moves so that she can not only have peace of mind but a genuine smile on her face.
Oh, and before I forget, I must say I loved what Kat and Diane add to the mix. Diane shows how Will has evolved as a potential partner, and what he has learned from his relationship with Charlie. Then, with Kat, you get to see that as much as Will seems like he doesn’t relate well to people, it is more so because he hasn’t found the right group. For as a teacher, while many of his class seem to not understand him at all, the few who do seem to be a godsend. Hence how Kat knew that Will and her mom were maybe a good match. For even if she wasn’t into comic books at first, because she is a classic American literature snob/ professor, you can see Diane liked Will challenging her perspective of comics belonging amongst the classics. Mostly because, his challenge wasn’t to insult her, but because he wanted to open her mind to possibilities and engage her intellect. Then, to top things off, a part of me feels that Kat might have used Will so that her mom could learn to accept her decision to be a comic artist and, with that thought, you even get some added complexity in Kat’s intentions when it comes to the whole scenario.
A lack of resolution when it comes to Diane and Will is the only real glaring issue when it comes to this movie, for me anyway. Granted, others may take issue with how odd Will is, as well as Charlie, and may not enjoy the complications of their relationship, but ultimately this movie is a bit of a niche film. You have to enjoy eccentric people, and watching them be forced out of their comfort zone, in a genuine way, to really like this movie. Otherwise, it will seem like your usual indie movie which seems weird just for the sake of it.
Overall: Worth Seeing
I’m not going to pretend this is the best film out there, but there is something truly appealing with how authentic this film sometimes is. For it doesn’t have your usual: we are in love, we breakup, and then a major gesture fixes everything. No. People Places Things is about real life. It’s about learning to move on, or working things out sometimes because a clean cut isn’t always an option. Sometimes you need to and will find yourself, murking through old relationships unsure if where they ended was the end. Then, other times, you will find what perhaps maybe the ideal person, for one period of your life, only to learn they were meant to be a series of lessons so you can be with the person who you’re destined for.
Which is why this is being labeled “Worth Seeing.” For unlike many a romantic drama I have watched, much less reviewed, this film actually makes you think a bit. A rare quality in modern films.
“Maybe misery is inexorably linked to happiness.”
— People Places Things