With a perfect blend of reality and fiction, i am a good person/i am a bad person takes viewers on a journey behind the scenes of film festivals. Opening Thursday, June 14, 2012 at The Royal, the film follows Ruby (Ingrid Veninger), a struggling filmmaker screening her latest film, Headshots, at a few film festivals. She brings her 18-year-old daughter Sara (Hallie Switzer, Veninger’s real daughter) along with her. The two don’t get along very well as Ruby seems more immature than Sara, and both women are also keeping a secret from the other. When Sara decides to visit family in Paris while Ruby continues to another film festival, both women must come to some life altering decisions on their own.
Don’t confuse the onscreen relationship between mother and daughter as a realistic portrayal of Veninger and Switzer, that’s not where reality seeps into this film. Though the similarities are hard to ignore, since the film is about a filmmaker trying to gain an audience for her movie at film festivals, Veninger has always fared better than her character Ruby has, and Veninger’s relationship with her daughter is much better than their onscreen characters. It’s the moments where Ruby interacts with people in different cities she visits that break the line between fiction and reality. It’s also those moments where the film really shines, giving us a glimpse at not only the struggle of a filmmaker, but our own human nature.
It almost feels like watching two films. What begins as a kind of behind-the-scenes of the film festival world quickly turns into a moving film about two women who have difficult decisions to make, and the way in which the world around them affects that. Veninger excels on both counts, something that her own experiences probably help with. Who better to create a film about a struggling director at a film festival than someone who has been there and done that. Moments from the film have been pulled from the life of Ingrid Veninger. A sleeping audience member at a screening in the film, Ruby walking through the city handing out postcards for her film, even a Q&A question that seems insulting. These things happen to directors, and Ingrid Veninger has made sure to include them in her film.
Here’s a movie that needs to be watched more than once, not to better understand what has happened, but to view everything from a different perspective. Knowing that certain moments were unscripted and actually happened while filming was going on begins to change the viewers perception of things. Of course, the more you think about it, the stranger it becomes. A director and her daughter create a film about a director and her daughter filled with moments that have happened in real life and includes unscripted moments involving random individuals who just happened to be there during filming. If there was ever an appropriate time to use the term “meta”, this would be it.
While the mechanics behind the film are fascinating, what really matters is that the film is a success. Characters behave in the way that anyone else would, and there’s no magical movie way of figuring things out. We’ve all met the characters before, we know some of them personally, and we’ve occasionally struggled with the same problems. It’s easy to make a connection with them, and even though the film doesn’t go out of its way to play on our emotions, those connections we have will. To make this even more of a must-see film, Veninger has said the film will never be available on DVD or digitally. This reviewer strongly suggest heading out to the theatre while this film is still playing.
i am a good person/i am a bad person opens Thursday, June 14, 2012 and plays daily until Thursday, June 21, 2012 at The Royal. Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with cast and crew. Details can be found at The Royal website.
Don’t miss our interview with director Ingrid Veninger about her work/life blend and the making of this film.