Even without any proper dramatic scenes, this swirling collage of a movie draws us into its story and situations, revealing deep truths about relationships. With its basis in real people and events, it's technically a documentary, but it feels more like performance art, hugely ambitious in the way it's assembled, and sometimes jarringly honest.
Filmmaker Terence Nance narrates with wry observations, sometimes letting others take over to offer differing perspectives. At the centre of the movie is Nance's 2006 short How Would You Feel?, which at the time he presented as fiction even though it's an exploration of his secret crush on his friend Namik Minter, which he struggles to push into a relationship due to the challenges of being a young man making a living in New York. The short is shown here in segments, intercut with An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, which unpicks the themes to reveal Nance's inner yearnings as well as how life doesn't always give us quite what we want.
By putting his inner feelings so vividly on-screen, especially in the context of hindsight, we can't help but sympathise with Nance every step. He's a cheeky, lively, smart guy who just finds it impossible to get a relationship going with any woman he meets, and he especially can't get Minter out of his head. In other words, the film is exploring the gap between our expectations and real life. And even more telling is the way it delves into the contradiction between how we feel and how others think we feel.
The film is a kaleidoscope of clever touches, with many scenes rendered in inventively beautiful animation in a variety of styles. The loose narrative offers a bracing exploration of how two people connect (or don't) over the years, and it also lets Nance explore some remarkably inventive filmmaking styles, stirring in a lot of humour and emotion along the way. It's relentlessly indulgent and arty, but it also lets us see things about ourselves we may have missed. And it shows us that often we love a simplified version of our intended, because it's a lot easier than trying to understand someone else in all their complexity.
Run time: 84 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th April 2013
Box Office USA: $66.0k
Distributed by: Variance Films
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: Terence Nance
Producer: Channelle Pearson, Andrew Corkin, James Bartlett, Terence Nance
Screenwriter: Terence Nance