138 Willoughby St. at Flatbush Ave. (Ft. Greene/Downtown Brooklyn)
B, Q, R to Dekalb Ave
|8:30pm||Live music by Terence Etc.|
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Terence Nance | USA | 95 min.)
Love is a complicated emotion, up and down, stopping and starting, and (at its worst, or, depending on your attitude, at its apotheosis) love is entirely irrational. Yet your average romantic movie adheres to a paint-by-numbers design and fill-in-the-blank plot. An Oversimplification of Her Beauty colors vividly outside the lines and throws the plot (and reality itself) in a blender, constructing an original cinematic experience from thinning VHS tape, Japanese wood joinery and more animation styles than Rooftop’s annual “Dark ‘Toons” show. Nance’s debut feature is actually a short film (“How Would You Feel?”), with an inserted documentary explication. The work posits an educational thesis, but could be called a self-help film, in the form of an unfolding diary (that contains a trailer for second, unmade film titled “Subtext,” plus recreations from literary inspirations, and more.) To summarize: An Oversimplification is anything but a simple romantic comedy.
It is, however, achingly romantic and archly comedic. In this hybrid, through Nance’s real life relationships and fictional examinations (or vice versa), the audience feels Terence’s emotions acutely (by way of wild digressions and mysterious tangents). The film was made as a means of wooing a woman, but despite the intentional solipsism of the cinematic view, she comes across as a complex, strong-willed character, and the film is as much an entreaty to the audience. For all the intimacy and specificity of Terence’s affairs, the film’s faux-serious narrator entices the audience by referring back to the title short, asking, in any given unusual but realistic situation: “How would you feel?” Are you telling yourself the truth? Should you chase your ultimate desires? The passionate and beautiful answer is that although it may be easier to give in to cynicism and banality, and although the wild and wonderful may not always win the woman, daring to embrace the chaos of love will always lead to the more rewarding life (and film).
- Mark Elijah Rosenberg