Sundance 2011 Review: I MELT WITH YOU

Allison Loring

by: Allison Loring
January 28th, 2011

Rating: 2/5

Director: Mark Pellington
Writer: Glenn Porter (screenplay)
Cast: Rob Lowe, Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino

When four friends come together for their yearly reunion, the liquor, drugs, cigars and unbridled debauchery flow freely, but despite all these tools to help them numb themselves, a dark secret from their past seeps through. Friends since college (a few even earlier than that), Jonathan (Rob Lowe), Richard (Thomas Jane), Ron (Jeremy Piven), and Tim (Christian McKay) are now at different points in their lives, struggling with issues, but each make it a priority to come together once a year to regain that feeling of hope and optimism they had while in school.

For a group of grown men to behave in such constant and unabashed self destruction, you have to wonder what it is they are running from to cause such a desire to take themselves out of their right minds. In between the lines of coke, shots, and pills the group does have a few moments of real conversation. Jonathan is having a crisis of conscience over his medical practice becoming more of a drug cartel than a health provider, Richard is unhappy with his work as a high school English teacher rather than a novelist, Ron is trying to dodge an impending investigation by the FBI, and Tim is still mourning a significant loss in his life.

Filmed almost like a long form music video (not surprising, as director Mark Pellington does have an extensive background in the medium), the music is practically a fifth character as it pulsates and vibrates throughout almost every scene. When the men do slow down and take a moment to actually talk, the music does as well and takes a bit of a back seat as things get serious.

After a late night party, everyone wakes up slightly worse for the wear and the problems they have spent the past week trying to escape from start to bubble up as they near the end of the trip. As each fights their way out of their hangovers, a horrifying discovery is made and suddenly a pact they had made years ago is evoked during the course of their trip.

The content of the pact hedges on an insane idea, but it is also a reflection of these men themselves who do everything to the extreme. My problem with the pact is it is rooted in selfish reasoning and the fact that it takes only one member of the group to put it into action only further supports this conclusion. It makes you wonder if the reactions of each character when this snowball begins rolling are due to real emotion over the situation or simply regret at having ever agreed to the consequences of it in the first place.

It is obvious that this foursome is close, but they only see each other once a year and when they do, they are so out of their minds they never seem to end up forging any new connections, instead spending the time living in past memories. They essentially show up to enable each other’s bad behavior through an overgrown frat party making the story’s sudden turn shocking especially when, years later, each would still consider following through with it.

It is obvious I MELT WITH YOU intended on being provocative and wanted to push the limits, but spending the first half of the film watching our main characters desensitize themselves did not lend much to helping us really care about them when things take a turn. It was viscerally assaulting, which I think was Pellington’s goal, but there was little to root us in any semblance of actuality leaving the audience to simply sit back and watch as the film spins more and more out of control.

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