I was pleasantly surprised that the people behind the independent indie film People ;o sent me a screener to the film before it’s Itunes release date of 1st May. And I’m glad that it was a really good film so it was enjoyable both watching and writing a review about it. Check out my review below and I urge you to take some time to watch it when it becomes available.
People is an oddly fascinating anthology film that is so out of the box and in a way which greatly appeals to me personally. It takes dialogue and stretches it out over each of it’s 6 stories, stringing it’s characters along in drawn out back-and-forths, heated exchanges and ideological duels. With some great acting all round, Shane McGoey’s (writer for Sweetheart, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Django Unchained) somewhat risky dialogue-driven style becomes a solid bedrock and a mine full of interesting character studies, uncovering truth and revealing guarded vulnerabilities. Each part of its anthology is thematically relevant and thought-provoking. From a psychiatrist-patient psychological power-struggle about desire and weakness to a man’s clash with his veteran pal, People is solely dedicated to characterization. Recognizing increasingly ambiguous times where hope and cynicism are equally contentious, People’s tete-a-tete structure and character intimacy provokes us, on our own terms, to contemplate each uniquely human vignette and milieu.
The true extent of it’s singularity arrives at the fifth story, where it’s protagonist is a washed up idealistic director who is angry that his producers want to tweak his script to something more mainstream in favour of his character-driven and ‘meta’ style. In that moment, People became a socially-conscious work to a socially-conscious experience. I thought the heavy and angsty tone could be toned down but the physical disconnect between the protagonist and his producers through phone conversation and his overwhelming breakdown creates something special. The experience of getting a film like People made in our world today is a vicarious tragedy reflected in one of it’s stories; It is self-conscious in a way that feels genuine.
But I thought the two most brilliant stories were the first and the third. Those two were utterly compelling in similar ways. A heated power-struggle between a psychiatrist and his patient exposes trauma and insecurity more than most films do in it’s entire running length. The third is similar in vein; A veteran and his friend’s argument is serious and then darkly comic when tensions seem to hit fever pitch. When McGoey and his actors land the best punches like in these two stories, People’s humour and tragedy really moved me.
Like Wild Tales, People is an incisive and powerful social piece. It does not have the budget though it can be argued that it didn’t really need it. Although there were some technical imperfections, it is a fantastic and original spin on anthology that becomes apparent once the stories seem to cross paths with each other. Though a little contrived, McGoey’s style does not betray him. The significance to link up the stories is underscored by the last part, where all the tension in discourse almost erupts into a chaotic confrontation. The gravity, and in turn, the pitch-black humour in People hits so close to home particularly in our modern world of political dissent, distrust of corporations and cynicism, and more personal themes of family, trust, love and hope.
People is an empathetic and searing snapshot of reality in all it’s imperfections that had me transfixed throughout, and I as I watched, I constantly thought about how deeply affecting each story made me feel. And like it’s title, it shows us how selling a message today is not as effective as before. Perhaps, it’s more important that we get in touch with what people have to say. It may not have the denouement, comfort or resolution that mainstream movies provide but People’s commentary provides us with an unabridged authenticity that has to be cherished.
Rating: 9/10 Right up there with Graduation as the best films I’ve seen this year. With a small budget of $65k, People’s subtle minimalist style shines through with great acting. A strong first directorial effort from Shane McGoey