Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Am Not A Hipster ★★★★

Struggling To Find Meaning After The Death of His Mother

Written by Matt Giles
Edited by Erin Accomando

When we first meet Brook (Dominic Bogart), an indie-rock musician living in San Diego, we see many of the attributes of the modern day hipster: he rejects virtually anything that could be considered mainstream, rides a bicycle instead of driving a car, wears thick-rimmed glasses, and just does not seem to care about anything. The title of the film, of course, suggests that these traits are all part of a facade that Brook is putting out into the world. We come to learn that Brook, for the past year or so, is still devastated by the loss of his mother.

Throughout I Am Not A Hipster, we're given just enough detail about this woman (shown very briefly in flashback with no dialogue) to know that she meant the world to Brook and his three sisters. It informs everything that Brook does and says, making him both a fascinating character study and a guy a you would love to hit square in the face quite frankly. For most of the movie, the best parts of Brook are seen when he's with his sisters, who show up to spread their mother's ashes in the ocean. Of the three of them, Joy (Tammy Minoff) is the one who has the most screen time with him, rightfully so as Minoff beautifully balances understanding her brother while also giving him the wake-up call he needs. 

What I love about this movie, as well as the music throughout it, is the fact that it managed to use the medium of film to convey all the emotions I've ever felt listening to some of my favorite musicians. I tend to be on the fence with Radiohead depending on the album, but an example of what I'm talking about could be found in their song "Fake Plastic Trees". For me, it's a song that, regardless of the lyrics, is about loss and hope living in harmony. I can't quite describe everything I feel when I listen to something like that, but those same emotions bubbled to the surface while I was watching I Am Not A Hipster

My favorite scene in the movie is an example of these conflicting emotions when Brook, his sisters, and his estranged father finally go the beach to put their mother to rest. Carrying the urn out to sea, Brook drops it in the ocean when a wave hits him harder than expected. What follows is a conversation between father and son that is so perfect I was moved to tears. This is one of the few character study films (if such a sub-genre exists) that knocked me out by how terrific and understated it was.

I haven't seen many films that tackle the relationship between loss and creativity so well. I Am Not A Hipster should be considered a lesson to aspiring filmmakers. Anyone who has ever experienced a tragedy and created something - be it a song, a film, a novel or anything else - knows that the key is not to be consumed by grief, but instead to use it as your fuel. I won't discuss spoilers here, except to say that Brook is an example of that journey, a character worth your time in a film that is truly special. 

I Am Not A Hipster is currently available on demand. 

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