Things I Never Told You (1996)


This film is a complete failure. Its degree of emotionality is superficial. It claims to be about depression, but it doesn’t go deep. It makes a cartoon out of real life. The sin is greater because it quotes from real sources: Jarmusch, Cassavetes, Sex Lies and Videotapes, High Fidelity (preemptively), and Woody.

The script is built by the numbers, pieced like a sitcom: dark and depressed girl, clueless but good hearted scruffy loser, electronics store clerk, nosy neighbor, videotaped confessions, laundromats. Unrelated characters are all connected. The world as a small town.

Listen, I think this filmmaker is interested in film as style only. She feigns substance by planting lures. This is the equivalent of the hipster appropriating references. All quotes. No soul.

I suspect: rich priviledge, a la Sofia Coppola.

Nobody really wants to die here…they just think it’s cool.

It’s not.

Let me try to be fairer:

Don Henderson volunteers at the Hope Line, a suicide prevention call center. He enjoys his job but admits to doing it only to avoid the emptiness of his own life as a real estate agent (a job he got through his rich Dad’s connections). Different people call the Hope Line: Diane, a transsexual who just self-castrated only to get dumped the next day. But she’s not that depressed, she just likes to vent. Another caller, Steve, is suffering from ‘self-induced depression’, but he’s just worried his work will find out that he’s been collecting disability for no good reason. On the other hand, Ann (Lili Taylor) just got dumped and is undergoing a minor psychosis: depersonalization, despair, stress, confusion, uncertainty about her future.  She records these ‘confessions’ which she mails to her ex-lover, in the hopes of finding closure. Unfortunately the packages are intercepted by her nosy neighbor who watches them and falls in love with her story.

What follows, is a series of forced encounters between all these characters, to prove that despite their sense of aloneness, they are all in fact quite connected.

When one of them tries to commit suicide, Don Henderson is called to the scene to convince him not to. He fails, and in the melee is shot. Steve dies, but Don survives. The final scene has everybody in the hospital awaiting news of his state.

Here’s what you can gather: everybody is faking it–they are not depressed, most likely they are simply bored. There are hints of internal pain but nothing is exteriorized. The only redeeming element: Lili Taylor. Just watching her breathe, as she constantly avoids disclosure, reveals the thinness of the story and how she refuses to partake. In fact, her character literally leaves the movie before the end.



Categories: female leads, Notes

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