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The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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The Weekly Movie Thing: Nobody Loves You and You Don’t Deserve to Exist (2022)

Photo+from+Indiegogo
Photo from Indiegogo
Produced by Jack Clarke and director Brett Gregory, Nobody Loves and You Don’t Deserve to Exist (2022) stands as proof that the pioneering spirit of independent British cinema is very much alive and well. The title is evocative and more than a suitable primer for the subsequent film; the forecast for emotional longing and desperation is apt, but there are layers of depth, contextual, social, and political, throughout this raw, poignant, and utterly human drama.
Gregory’s film opens with cryptic aplomb; there’s no mystery where and when the action takes place; the movie, the initial framing device is very much rooted amid the swell of the (ongoing) Covid pandemic; there’s a roiling kettle of tension. There’s a pang of horror that reverberates throughout the corridors of this deliberately structured but unpredictable journey, and yet there’s more akin to the raw veracity of British realist cinema. In terms of structural context, tone, and execution, this brings to mind the mixed media early sojourns of Ken Russell’s biographical essay teleplays or the early work of Ken Loach or Alan Clarke. The direction is assured, as is the writing, and the film represents a wounded soul, one that is still festering, and we’re going to see the creators, cast, and crew make their way through the mending process. Along the way, we, as the viewer, become complicit in this process, and it’s this meta-textual congruence that makes Nobody Loves You, and You Don’t Deserve to Exist a potent and invigorating watch.
The exposition is limited to an elusive narrator (Caroline Chesworth) whose regal diction and cryptic posturing reveal a contrast in contemporary British society, a sort of schism in personal identity. This is a modern story bold enough to confront the contagion-weary present as well as the previous decades where the specter of Thatcherite conservatism shaped, bruised, and battered many, and this is one of their stories.
We learn that Jack, now fifty, is harboring a bevy of hurt; David Howell presents this character with a stunning display of interiority. He’s acting with his chest, eyes, and arms; guarded, fearful, and a little dangerous. He’s a drinker, loner, and wounded, and as we start making our internal inquiries regarding his current state, the film exercises its first in a line of intuitive aesthetic segues.
We transition to one of many subjects; like a documentary, the narrative shifts us to a static presentation of significant people in Jack’s life, family members, teachers, and at the film’s strongest points, Jack himself at various stages in his life. These raw and intimate monologues transcend the passive viewer to an active participant as we can’t help but piece together the many shards and fragments of this tattered life.
Nobody Loves You and You Don’t Deserve to Exist works memories and anecdotes from various voices into a thoroughly realized and studied investigation into the defensive walls of a damaged man. Who like so many tortured persons, is searching for a place, meaning, and perhaps love in a world incongruous with these simple human needs. Director and writer Brett Gregory tap into a unique form of revisionist storytelling. This is emotional horror by way of a fictionalized essay film. Yet, we glean that this isn’t too far from an emotional truth that it must be so close to the creator’s heart we can hear it beating in between the sometimes incendiary monologues.
The standout players, among many, are the two youthful interpretations of Jack; the first comes out in the pugnacious form of Jack at age thirteen, played by Reuben Clark, and a twenty-one-year-old Jack thanks to the hard-nosed tact of James Ward. Clark comes bombing out of the gate and onto the screen with the succinct brevity of a seasoned pro in the body of an adolescent boy, and Ward continues to realize the character through mercurial anxieties and fraught shatterings of revelation.
It’s a mosaic of inner turmoil over the years and there’s an ever-present concurrent energy building the Jack character, who progressively grows into something that seems larger than life. Ward and Clark give Jack their undivided energy and channel a consistent air of relatable pain and frustration.
Gregory’s achievement is the convergence where art, politics, and societal allegories intersect and conflate with subdued assurance. The impactful resonance of avant-garde, independent filmmaking is tempered with duration legibility that undermines the dominant veneer of mainstream cinema as the film manipulates viewer interaction.
While the very term “avant-garde” evokes a sense of participation by engaging with our senses by way of aesthetic bravura, here the notion of memory and sentiment become the centerpiece and the density of that filmic statement is nearly weaponized to the point where the revolving door of recollection is in constant swing, with the characters, the viewers and, hopefully the creators.
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