Sunday, February 13, 2011

Film Yap: My Last Five Girlfriends

The idea of looking back at former relationships to figure out what went wrong is not an original concept. Nick Hornby and Stephen Frears did it with High Fidelity. There was a fun new documentary A Complete History of My Sexual Failures that did it without giving the lead any mercy. So what does My Last Five Girlfriends bring to the table?

This movie plays a lot with the format and that makes it feel really fresh. Duncan (Brendan Patricks) begins with crafting his suicide letter. He feels betrayed by love and can’t figure out why his recent relationships have failed. Before he dies he thinks back to them to figure out what happened.

This storytelling structure of starting in the present and jumping into the past is usually annoying and this is no exception. The only thing I liked about it was the opportunity to play with memory. Instead of having long scenes with each ones that tell the full story of each relationship, it is just snippets. Not even the most important part. It’s fun to see all of the minute moments that could hold vital clues.

Every memory uses a lot of innovative devices and gimmicks to tell its story. Fans of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and 500 Days of Summer will enjoy seeing what writer/director Julian Kemp comes up with. Some of the better ones is when Duncan and Wendy’s airplane seats transform into a guided tour of her past as portrayed by dolls. There are also fun scenes including one of his girlfriend’s stuffed elephants giving him sex advice and an imagination of an interrogation on why his girlfriend decided by buy his favorite cereal.

There are plenty of very clever moments in the movie, but it doesn’t have a strong emotional connection. Duncan is a standard character and Patricks doesn’t play him with enough charisma. This really falls short with the narration, which is needed to guide everyone through this format but isn’t as clever as what’s seen on screen. If there was a little more internal conflict or frustration in the narration to really deduce why these relationships went wrong, it would have been a lot strong.

Also since the women are not described in a regular format, there is a feel we really aren’t seeing the full story of these women. We get his emotional connections to them, but that doesn’t reflect for us to understand them in the same way. The audience will only know them through Duncan’s biased eyes, which is interesting but not involving. That’s the ultimate flaw of the movie.

The DVD has a handful of cool extras. Short interviews with Kemp and members of the cast. The really cool featurette was when he showed how he did some of the visual effects in the movie. There are also deleted scenes and a commentary track with Kemp.

Film: 4 Yaps

Extras: 3.5 Yaps

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