DVD Review - I Melt With You

Jeremy Piven (left), Rob Lowe, Christian McKay (seated)
and Thomas Jane (right) in "I Melt With You"
Perhaps responding to the mixed reactions at its 2011 Sundance Film Festival premiere or the 13 % on Rotten Tomatoes, director Mark Pellington acknowledges that this is not a movie for everyone, and I agree. This movie would be a turn-off for a lot of people. It was in fact a turn-off for me for the first hour of it. After the pivot point, which occurs a hour or so from the start, my feelings for this film changed and I then began to greatly appreciate what the filmmakers were doing here.

Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, Thomas Jane and Christian McKay play four men in their late 30s and early 40s. The movie opens with each guy in a dull and depressing, mental state. Some of them are anxious. Others are sleep-walking through their lives. They all go together on a week-long vacation, just the four of them, to a house by the sea.

Once the men arrive at the vacation house, they let loose. They do drugs. They talk and laugh. They drink. They go for a skinny dip, a crazy car ride and a tumble down a sand dune. They're all friends that at least go back to college and this vacation is the men attempting to re-capture their college days in more ways than one.

This goes on for about a hour. We see a lot of scenes of these guys partying. It all builds to a veritable bacchanal. The guys do a lot of drugs, alcohol, dancing, laughing and loud music. It all seems relentless and annoying after a hour because the movie feels like it's not going anywhere.

That first hour's saving grace is its cinematography. On the DVD commentary, Pellington reveals that the whole movie was photographed using the Canon 5D and 7D with little setups and mostly natural lighting, as well as multiple cameras going. This movie premiered at 2011's Sundance Fest, which also saw the premiere of Hell and Back Again, the first feature shot using exclusively the Canon still cameras.

Pellington and his cinematographer push the camera's abilities further and bring back some really beautiful images. It helps that they're filming in a beautiful place with beautiful actors, but Pellington finds angles and camera movements that are gorgeous. His style is at times documentary-like, which only accentuates the actions. His editing here, which at times reflects Pellington's music video background, also greatly accentuates the actions.

While the acting from all four guys is stellar, McKay's performance, particularly in the first hour, stands tall. McKay's character, Tim, has a series of conversations individually with various guys that dig deep and get at a broken soul. It's in stark contrast to the rest of the movie in that first hour, which is juvenal and at times pure boisterous expressions of freedom.

In the Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith podcast, Pellington revealed he made this movie because rarely are friendships between men of this age put onto the big screen. I truly appreciated that Pellington achieved a great portrayal of friendship between these men. The way they speak to each other and the instances of them just hugging display a closeness between men that is hardly seen in movies.

The second hour upends all that or at least it challenges that closeness in a very powerful or crazy way. Carla Gugina is featured, but this movie is really all about the bond between these men and how it's ultimately proven. The whole thing enthralled me. The second hour is very much a descent into madness, but I enjoyed it.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual content and strong language.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 5 mins.


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