I saw the trailer for PEOPLE PLACES THINGS months back and it appealed to my sense of humour immediately. Yet, being a festival film, I expected the chances of an Aussie release were probably slim.
I mentally catalogued it as one of those films I’d never get to see unless my local Blockbuster got more creative, or I manage to remember what on earth my iTunes password is… thankfully, I was wrong. PEOPLE PLACES THINGS is now showing in cinemas in Perth (and is also available through iTunes!)
PEOPLE PLACES THINGS is a quirky comedy following mopey graphic novelist Will Henry (Jemaine Clement from FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS). Will’s life is turned upside down when, at his twin daughters’ fifth birthday party, he walks in on the mother of his children, and long time partner, in a state of undress with another man. Thus Will embarks on the balancing act that is “single fatherdom”; awkwardly juggling his daughters, work and dating.
It’s ultimately a heavy subject – separation, parenthood etc. but PEOPLE PLACES THINGS manages to make light of the situation (without undermining the struggle that people in such circumstances face).
There’s a lot of truth to this film, yet it never feels like a downer.
As to be expected with Clement in the lead role, the humour is deliciously dry. It’s so understated, but so funny. There are a few nice nods to FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS for those who are looking, but Clement manages to separate himself from his character of old, and form a new, fully fledged, utterly believable Will.
Stephanie Allynne is perfect as his estranged partner, Charlie. She’s only done one or two films before, but she is fantastic here. Aundrea and Gia Gadbsy are also insanely adorable as their twin daughters.
I got the same warm and fuzzy feeling watching PEOPLE PLACES THINGS as I did the first time I saw KRAMER VS. KRAMER; it’s so nice to see separation dealt with fairly; we don’t see anyone as ‘the baddie’. Kudos must go to writer / director James C Strouse for his delicate handling.
It’s refreshing to see relationship reality: Our two characters do their best to work through their plight reasonably – there’s no vicious, damaging custody battles here. The children are smart, but not smart-mouthed. Yes, they are affected by the separation, but they aren’t descending into clichéd terrors. It makes for a cast of very likeable characters.
The soundtrack is wonderfully quirky, and there are some really beautiful shots with carefully considered composition and beautiful locations.
All in all, there’s little to fault in this film. While there is a touch of the usual filmmaker self indulgence that is so often found in indie films, it isn’t too in your face and alienating.
Delightfully offbeat, charming, funny and heartfelt, this little film is a most enjoyable gem. I rate it 7 stars.