Sadly, Halloween/horror month is over. What do we do now? As our pick this week demands, we express our deep sadness by painting it all black.
Paint It Black
After a young man dies by suicide, his mother and girlfriend spiral into a dysfunctional relationship fueled by guilt.
Josie is a stressed-out young woman who hasn’t heard from her live-in boyfriend, Michael, for a week. In need of a distraction, Josie goes out for a night of partying with her bestie, complaining about her infuriating boyfriend’s lack of consideration. Oh, how she will regret those complaints.
The next morning, Josie learns from the police that Michael is dead, apparently by suicide. His mother Meredith makes a devastating situation even more painful by calling Josie and bluntly blaming her for Michael’s death. Meredith goes so far as to actually choke Josie at the funeral when she attempts to place a rose on his coffin.
Interspersed throughout the film are tidbits from Josie and Michael’s relationship. The two met when Josie modeled nude for a drawing class Michael, ever the tortured artist, was taking. Michael’s family is R-I-C-H, living in a huge mansion with its own pool courtesy of his mother’s career as a renowned concert pianist.
With nothing to hang onto except her rage, Josie decides to pay Meredith a visit. As it turns out, both now spend the majority of their time drinking and crying. Though the two seem to bond, it seems Meredith isn’t quite through wreaking emotional havoc. Wrangling an invite to see the apartment Michael shared with Josie, she uses the opportunity to reclaim all of his personal effects.
As the relationship between the two women escalates, it seems impossible they will ever accomplish anything beyond hurting each other. When they reach a tentative truce, Meredith opens up and even cares for Josie when she falls ill. However, when Josie begins to recover, she recognizes she can’t stay with Meredith forever.
When Josie makes her next stop the motel where Michael killed himself, will she find the comfort and closure she seeks?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
Mostly because of Alia Shawkat.
Our film tries to be artsy and full of meaning, but it merely scrapes the surface. There are some rather beautifully shot scenes here, but they add little beyond visual interest.
One of the themes driving the plot is the messiness and unpredictability of grief. Josie and Meredith could be natural allies as two women deeply mourning Michael’s death; however, their feelings do not, of course, unfold in any logical way. The oddness and ambiguity of their relationship drives the film, yet it also makes the story unsatisfying and unresolved. And while the grieving process here feels realistic, it doesn’t feel particularly authentic.