Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Last Time, Last Year - Not So Good.

I have eons of time for I Heart Huckabees. Literally, eons. Well, not literally, but eons in the sense that Vivian and Bernard might use the term considering we are all one and therefore my matter and energy shall continue forever. 

Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) is having a crisis. He is the head of the Open Spaces Coalition, devoted to preserving open space amongst the urban sprawl in America. In doing so he gets involved with the Huckabees corporation, a large kind of K-Mart or H&M or something type company - a corporate sponsor who are responsible for a lot of the sprawl but can raise their profile and aid their own PR. To this end he becomes involved with Brad (Jude Law), a marketing exec dating the face of Huckabees Dawn (Naomi Watts.) Whilst meeting with him he finds the card for a pair of existential detectives, Vivian (Lily Tomlin) and Bernard (Dustin Hoffman), who he contacts with a view to solving a coincidence involving Stephen (Ger Duany.) However, he bites off a bit more than he can chew as they set about pulling apart his entire notion of existence. He is paired with his 'other', Tommy (Mark Wahlberg), and the two are meant to strengthen each others resolve as they attempt to realise that everything is the same, nothing is different, we are all connected. But Tommy is splitting up with his wife and getting involved with another existentialist, Caterine (Isabelle Huppert), who used to be Vivian and Bernard's best student but has gone along very opposite lines, espousing the notion that nothing is connected, everything is random, life is cruel. Hilarity ensues.

Seriously, hilarity does ensue. It's all existential waffling, notions of reality, those kind of 'hippy' ideas of togetherness, separateness and being that seem quite trite, but writer/director David O Russell's dealing of them makes them sublimely ridiculous whilst still ringing somewhat true. The writing is truly exceptional, with so many quotable lines that in the days immediately following any of my viewing it is virtually impossible to get a straight word out of me - it's all 'there's glass between us', 'infinite nature' and 'I'm in my tree, I'm talking with the Dixie Chicks and they're making me happy.' And the performances are suitably ridiculous without parodying themselves. Tomlin is crazily esoteric while Huppert (marry me) is brilliantly cold and distant, but at the same time so powerfully seductive with her rejection of anything of meaning.

There are some great cameos from the likes of Tippi Hedren and Shania Twain, and the music from Jon Brion is perfectly suited to the serious yet whimsical nature of the entire concept. It's hard to say too much without going into ramblings on various aspects, which I won't do. But if the idea of an existential comedy makes you want to chew out your own eyes, then this isn't for you. If you like the idea of a comedy that makes you think while you're holding your sides from laughter, but doesn't really make you think that much if it does make you think, but maybe you've been thinking it all along and we're all actually the same person but perhaps this is just random that you're now watching this and maybe maybe maybe you see what I mean.

It's worth YouTubing scenes that made it onto the internet of Russell abusing cast members as well. They're kind of scarily hysterical... he is seriously an asshole from the looks of them (they made it onto the net a few years back), but they make you wonder why the fantastic cast stuck around. 5 stars.

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