“Me Him Her” (2016) – Film Finds Identity With Characters

Me Him Her is kind of a mess. It’s got a rather freeform stream of consciousness craziness to its story, a variety of characters that strike the audience directly in the face with their presence and massive tonal shifts that disorient on every level. The events that unfold feel like a whirlwind couple of days, rarely allowing the audience to breathe as writer/director Max Landis suffocates us with rapid visuals that showcase our characters’ state of mind at a breakneck pace. The major characters even range from engaging to unrelentingly narcissistic at times. All of it sounds rather exhausting and it really can be if an audience member has their guard down. Yet, despite all the insanity, Me Him Her has this genuine sincerity to it all that keeps it in check and occasionally picks something poignant to say amongst the chaos.

All of our leads in Me Him Her are wrestling with aspects of their own identity. What they want out of their sexual partners, public personas & happiness in general and how confronting those issues head on can be messy and full of false starts especially in a world where admitting their individuality could be costly. Much of this is told through rather unconventional means of writer/director Landis that can feel a bit insufferable in terms of how awkward the shots are framed and how loud the situation is at any given moment. It’s clear at various points that this is Landis’ directorial debut, showing off his lack of consistency in terms of executing a bigger gags or visual sequences with complete consistency. It manages to feel even less coherent than a typical Landis pitch rant he’s become Internet-famous for. Yet, more often than not amongst the raucous noise and occasionally overwhelming sense of limited execution, is a film that taps into a believable workings of a quarter life crisis.

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FilmBuff

Sure, a man coming out as gay or a woman recognizing her bisexuality may seem quaint in a gender sphere as varied as some can be right now, but they’re both told from a very honest – if occasionally silly and manic – perspective. It’s not about how brave either of these people are being as much as how honest they’re being with themselves about their fears and regrets about confronting who they are head on. Of course, these are the sequences that center mainly on Luke Bracey‘s Brendan and Emily Meade‘s Gabbi, who have dimensional aspirations and believable journeys along the way. Our third lead Dustin Milligan as Cory is much more of an uphill battle, with a massive annoying streak early on that makes him distrustful and arrogant as a friend or lover (aside from the occasional burst of refreshing contemplation of consent), which makes his eventual turn feel sort of unearned by Me Him Her‘s end, mostly due his horrendous treatment of the Brendan character that persists up until the end of the second act. Of course, their antics are helped along by the welcome supporting presence of talents like Alia Shawkat, Casey Wilson, Scott Bakula, Geena Davis and a bizarre Haley Joel Osment cameo to keep things balanced.

Ultimately, Me Him Her is a story about pronouns. The title probably makes that obvious, but it’s central to the major theme of find a way to label oneself, between society’s standards and one’s own. Not just in terms of sexual identity, but truly coming to terms with how you’re treating yourself as a person. It’s a film about embracing one’s inner feelings and how often that can clash in catastrophic ways. Because of that, it’s often scatter brained as all hell between wants of the heart and the elaborate fantasies that one finds themselves escaping to during their darkest moments. Sometimes writer/director Landis can’t quite stick the landing on how to portray those thoughts, but that often crosses over into being part of the charm given the central thematics. Despite the frenzied confusion of style and pop culture sensibilities that occasionally turns this into a much lower budget and lesser executed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, there’s an endearing search for understanding that keeps the entire affair from collapsing in on itself… even if it’s being held together with sparkling duct tape.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Haley Joel Osment Cats

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