LA Film Festival Review: WE WERE ONCE A FAIRYTALE
Last night, the Los Angeles Film Festival hosted the world premiere of Spike Jonze's new short WE WERE ONCE A FAIRYTALE, starring Kanye West as...Kanye West? Well, sort of.
The film opens with flashing lights, bumping jams, and stand-out camerawork that handily approximates the mindset of our inebriated star. Kanye (or, should it be "Kanye"?) is in a club, sans poor sunglasses choice and any sort of hulking entourage, and he is drrrrrrunk. Kanye is so drunk that he's convinced everything is cool, while the audience immediately recognizes what's really going on - Kanye is drunk and everyone around him thinks he's a tool. The waitresses think he's a tool, the ladies he tries to holler at by the bar think he's a tool, his two friends think he's a tool, that guy whose girlfriend Kanye is bear-hugging into oblivion? He definitely thinks he's a tool. I even think Farnsworth Bentley showed up, and he thinks Kanye is a tool, and that's a guy who got his big break by holding Diddy's umbrellas for him. And as Kanye zooms through all of these quick-cut interactions, they bounce back and forth between being incredibly funny and deeply sad. Is there anything more pathetic than yelling, "this is my song!" in a club when it actually is your song, and no one even remotely cares?
And then things get a little weird. We go from a brain-squeezing meta-exercise in considering Kanye West as "Kanye West" to a straight shot into an alternate reality that should inevitably lead to at least half the audience thinking, "dang, I've never been that drunk." If this was a different film, what happens next could probably be described as "whimsical." But once Jonze has fully committed to taking this unreal route, it all becomes strangely edge-of-your-seat. You don’t know what's going to happen, and you're so uncomfortable that it's possible you're just going to slip off your seat and right onto your ass.
WE WERE ONCE A FAIRYTALE is a brief meditation on fantasy versus reality. It's no coincidence that Jonze chose West to play himself or "Kanye West," this is not a film that works with some unknown actor. As an audience, we need to think we know who we're dealing with, and then not know, and then maybe know again, and then probably have to lay down for a bit, because what the hell just happened?