Second official day of the festival. I spent alot of the time focused on walking around the city and enjoying the weather with my friend Ije, but I also attend my first real film of the festival - a special presentation of Imogene, Kristen Wiig’s new movie. Off of the comedic brilliance of Wiig’s performance in Bridesmaids alone, it was on the top of my list of picks for this year’s festival. Could she bring to the table an equally great performance to a new movie? Also, being a “Glee” fan in the last couple of years (yeah, I can admit that), I was also interested in seeing the charismatic Darren Criss in his first feature film. The film follows a woman named Imogene (Kristen Wiig) who seemingly has it all as she lives the high life among literary elite in New York City with the perfect boyfriend and perfect friends, but after she loses it all (or more aptly, never had it in the first place), she is forced to return to her hometown in New Jersey, the very place she tried so hard to forget. This seems like the stuff good dramas are made of but throw in a staged attempted suicide, a gambling addict mother, and mom’s much younger boyfriend who claims to be an undercover government agent AND a samurai, and you may have hit the comedic payload. All in all, this turned out to be a pretty good one. It didn’t have the perfectly timed comedic beats Bridesmaids had, and the end of the film moved toward the ridiculous, but the movie had great comedic must-see moments not only from Kristen Wiig but also from the great Annette Bening. My Grade: B-
“The best way to find someone is to have them arrested”
(SPOILERS) We get a good sense of who Imogene is at the start of the film. The movie opens with a young Imogene on stage for rehearsals for her elementary stage production of “The Wizard of Oz”. Imogene, of course, is Dorothy, but an opinionated Dorothy who tells her teacher she would like to change the classic line “there is no place like home” for something see con realistic. In this cold opening, we gather that Imogene is a wanna-be playwright, stubborn, and has some not so nice memories of her home. When we are introduced to adult Imogene she is all of this but also very unhappy underneath. Though she lives in New York City as she always wanted, they people there, including her “best friend” and her boyfriend, subtly make her feel like she doesn’t belong among them. When her live-in boyfriend (who doesn’t want to marry her and instead proclaims that their “souls are connected”) breaks up with her and moves out, she does something very drastic (and very funny) - she sets ups her apartment to look like she committed suicide by taking a bunch of pills, complete with a (well written) suicide note. You see, Imogene is also very melodramatic. She only succeeds though in mistakenly getting thrown into a psych ward in the hospital and only allowed to be released in the care of her mother. Hearing that she mad dashes out of her room in her hospital gown and is chased by orderlies, reminiscent of the hilarious Bridesmaids chase on the airplane.
Enter Imogene’s over-the-top, very Jersey mother (Annette Bening) who, while Imogene is sedated, leaves her in the backseat of her car in the parking lot of a casino while she gambles (the scene where she wakes up in the car is one of the great highlights of the film). Without money or ID, she is forced to go back to New Jersey with her mother, is reunited with mentally disabled brother, meets her mother’s skeezy boyfriend (Matt Dillon) and finds out that her room has been rented to a recent college grad and lounge singer of classic 90s Backstreet Boys music Lee (Darren Criss). The supporting characters serves to give Imogene more dimension. Her relationship with her brother comes to show her patience, her budding friendship and attraction of Lee shows her fun and easy-going side she thought she has lost, and her skepticism of her mom’s boyfriend encourages her to become more realistic in her view of life. Through this discovery of herself, she comes to, with the help of Lee and her brother, embrace the life she has and stand up for herself to the people who made her feel so low.
Post-TIFF To Do List:
1. Rewatch Bridesmaids for the umpteeth time
2. Hope Darren Criss comes out with another solo album