The We and the I
All aboard Michel Gondry’s bus around the Bronx.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director Michel Gondry
- Producer Georges Bermann
- Screenwriter Michel Gondry, Jeff Grimshaw, Paul Proch
- With Michael Brodie, Teresa Lynn, Raymond Delgado
- USA 2012
- 103 mins
- Sales Kinology
It’s the last day of term at a Bronx high school, and teenagers pile onto a bus to take them away from the place for the summer. The bragging bullies claim the back seat, one girl is questioned about her recent absence, another is taking the planning of a sweet-sixteen party very seriously, and an arty nerd scribbles in his sketchpad. As the journey progresses, above the bitching and bravado, we gradually learn more about these characters and other kids around them. Michel Gondry’s latest is an utterly charming portrait of youth that refuses to be sentimental. Indeed, the casual cruelty of adolescents, the damning of pack mentality, identity crises and the recognition that being teenage is but a passing phase are themes that give the film depth and poignancy without ever undermining its humour, while the pumping old-school hiphop soundtrack and some inventive, fanciful moments typical of the director contribute to making The We and the I such a fun ride.
At high school, I was an individualist. I had friends, sure, but I avoided anything involving large groups. I just didn’t like how teens behaved in a group environment. Social stereotypes were reinforced while the group identity made individuals less responsible for their actions. Leaders led and their henchmen did all they could to suck up to them. Basically, people weren’t themselves. Later, I remember catching a bus across Paris that was overrun at one point by high-school kids. Unlike their mass entrance, their exit was gradual and I was able to observe variations in individuals’ behaviour. With each stop, the mass was diminished and individual personalities reasserted themselves. The initially raucous chatter gave way to deeper and more personal conversations. Then, only two students were left, just behind me, and their conversation veered onto philosophy. That’s the story I tell in The We and the I with young students from the Bronx in New York. A very colourful and sometimes much more difficult life, with death flashing up on cell phones and mockery giving way to tears and consolation. It’s not exactly the same life as kids in an upscale part of Paris, but deep down I think people are all the same. I followed, interviewed and filmed a group of young Americans for two years and it’s their story that they tell us, with its codes, hyperbole and music.
Born in Versailles in 1963, he attended art school in Paris and played drums with the band Oui-Oui; also creating their video clips. But it was his subsequent series of pop promos for Björk that bought him worldwide attention. He also made numerous high-profile commercials before his feature debut Human Nature and his Oscar win with the screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He was Artist in Residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 and 2006, and continues to work in various time-based media: his and Pierre Bismuth’s installation The All-Seeing Eye was a highlight of the BFI Southbank Gallery schedule a few years back. His adaptability is legendary: instanced when he followed the intensely personal, LFF-screened documentary The Thorn in the Heart with the high-profile Hollywood project, The Green Hornet.
1986 L'Expédition fatale [s]
1987 Jazzmosphère [s]
1988 My Brother's 24th Birthday [s]; La Lettre (The Letter) [s]
1989 Vingt p’tites tour [doc]
2001 Human Nature; One Day... [s]
2003 I’ve Been Twelve Forever [doc]; Pecan Pie [s]
2004 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Ossamuch! – Kishu & Co [s]; Tiny [s]; Three Dead People [s]; Drumb and Drumber [s]
2005 Dave Chappelle’s Block Party [doc]
2006 La Science des rêves (The Science of Sleep)
2007 Michel Gondry Solves a Rubik's Cube with his Nose [s]
2008 Be Kind Rewind; Tokyo! [ep Interior Design only]
2009 L'Épine dans le cœur (The Thorn in the Heart) [doc]
2011 The Green Hornet
2012 The We and the I