TIFF 2012: I-meh-gene

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Last year, I ended my TIFFing on a meh note. This year, though my ratio of great films to mediocre films favors the latter category more than it did in 2011, I nonetheless once again concluded my fest-going with a film that didn’t quite wow me as much as I’d hoped it would. Perhaps I should have swapped my ticket for one to Zaytoun, which was playing later in the afternoon and which had earned across-the-board raves from everyone I spoke to who’d seen it.

Instead, I signed myself up for Imogene (5/8).

As an aside, I must point out that, though it was the final day of TIFF, the line-up at the Ryerson for this screening was insane. I arrived an hour and 20 minutes before showtime (as a result of a miscalculation of my walking time), and there was already a line of about 100 people waiting. Half an hour later, several hundred more people had joined the queue, and multiple gasps of “oh my God” could be heard as newly arrived ticket holders caught a glimpse of the line size.

Anyway, the movie. Kristen Wiig stars at the titular Manhattan writer, whose stalled career and imploding personal life cause her to fake a suicide attempt in the hopes of winning back her ex. Unfortunately, her plan backfires, the ex ignores her and Imogene is sent by doctors to live in New Jersey under the supervision of her estranged, boozy, gambling-addict mother (Annette Bening at her Jersey Shore-iest best). There, she reconnects with her Asperger’s-ish brother (Christopher Fitzgerald, who gives the film its heart) and meets the newest men in her mom’s life: boyfriend “The Bouche” (a permed Matt Dillon), who may or may not be a bloated CIA operative, and Lee (Darren Criss), a would-be singer working in a Backstreet Boys cover band.

At its core, Imogene is a very pleasant movie about finding yourself, embracing authenticity and discovering the value of your family, no matter how eccentric or outrageous or infuriating they might be. But where the real heart and soul should probably come from its title character, it instead comes from the supporting cast (especially, as mentioned, Fitzgerald’s sweetly naïve Ralph). All the doing is theirs, not Imogene’s – she’s more of an observer than anything else.

And, while Wiig’s performance is perfectly fine, it lacked some of the dramatic nuances (i.e., her being serious instead of funny) that she showed in, of all things, Whip It. Given Imogene’s circumstances, I kind of expected a little more depth to the character. Again, it was all just okay, not great.


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