Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
A Picture of You: Family, Grief, and TMI
days, getting one’s affairs in order should include a digital component, as two
grown siblings learn in vivid terms. When cleaning out their late mother’s
house, the brother and sister find something that throws them for a loop. Their
already testy relationship gets even tenser in J.P. Chan’s feature directorial
debut, A Picture of You (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
was there during their mother’s long treatment and hospitalization, but Jen was
largely absent. Kyle noticed. As they start packing, they argue over everything
including how much tape to use on each box. The imminent arrival of Jen’s close
friend Mika and Doug, her computer geek boyfriend itching to propose, at least promises
to give them a bit of a break from each other. However, when they inadvertently
stumble across something very private it thoroughly freaks them out. Of course,
it will not stop them from bickering.
Sounds excruciating, right? However, Chan’s
light touch deftly avoids the excesses of sentimentality and quirkiness that
has probably set off your Spidey sense. Chan has already built a reputation on
the festival circuit for his short films, including the inventive science
fiction outing Digital Antiquities,
featured as part of ITVS’s Futurestates.
Although they sound worlds removed from each other, they happen to share some
common themes and motifs.
films also feature Chan’s frequent collaborator, Jo Mei, who co-wrote APOY, as well. As Jen, she is nobody’s
push-over, but there is an earthy allure to her caustic attitude. She still
projects the smart, tough screen presence that served Antiquities so well. Just as Chan carefully calibrates the film’s
tone, Andrew Pang finely modulates Kyle’s simmering resentments, making him a mostly
sympathetic figure rather than a pill. Lucas Dixon’s Doug is also likable enough,
wisely refraining from cringey goofiness. Yet, no one can match the class and
grace Jodi Long lends the film as the mother only seen briefly in flashbacks.
just about all APOY’s characters feel
like real people, or at least close enough for government work. Chan and
company play it pretty straight, but there are flashes of biting wit peppered throughout.
In fact, Chan slyly subverts lazy politically correct assumptions in several of
Jen and Kyle’s less than gracious exchanges with the predominantly white rural
of Antiquities would love to see a
feature treatment of its world and characters, but APOY is still an impressive maiden feature. It is a mature,
forgiving film with more than its share of deeply resonate dialogue. Recommended
for those who appreciate small ensemble dramas, A Picture of You opens this Friday (6/20) in New York at the AMC
Labels: J.P. Chan, Jo Mei