By Don Simpson | December 7, 2010
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Writers: Ry Russo-Young, Stella Schnabel
Starring: Stella Schnabel, Simon O Connor, Carlen Altman, Rene Ricard, Donald Cumming
Shelly (Stella Schnabel — daughter of Julian Schnabel) is a twenty-something aspiring actress armed with with plethora of problems — many of which are psychological in origin — flopping around amongst the young bohemian hipsters of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Chock full of contradictions: she says that she wants to find love, yet she hooks up with guys (and girls) with whom she has no chance of a relationship; she actively auditions for acting roles, yet she does not seem interested in winning the roles; she is astutely perceptive (and critical) of the world around her, yet she is unable to differentiate between the reality and fiction of her own life; she possesses a solid personal code of ethics, yet she can toss that code aside at the blink of an eye.
Her absentee mother — also an actress — does not answer Shelly’s phone calls, which probably explains Shelly’s intense desire to have a deep connection with a fellow human. Her emotions and moods slip and slide from her control causing Shelly to turn on her friends and acquaintances without warning. (It also does not help matters that Shelly is not one to apologize for anything.) Relationships are a constant pull and push for Shelly — wanting to become close with someone, then quickly chasing them away. Shelly’s propensity towards substance abuse only adds fuel to the tumultuous fire burning within her.
Shelly might be considered self-destructive if only she seemed more conscious of her decisions, but she acts upon her immediate intuition rather than contemplating the possible ramifications of her actions. She seems oblivious to the dourness of her situation and the recklessness of her behavior, therefore she has no motivation to change.
For those of you who prefer your protagonists to be soft and lovable — take heed, Shelly is definitely not one of those. You Wont Miss Me may leave Shelly’s persona ingrained in your mind long afterwards, but you probably will not miss her.
Director Ry Russo-Young (Orphans) utilizes two cinematographers (Kitao Sakurai and Ku-Ling Siegel) and mixes together multiple visual formats (16 mm, HD, Super 8mm and video) to convey the multifaceted nature of Shelly’s consciousness; while the non-linear construction of the narrative forces us to experience life as unconventionally as Shelly does. Some scenes play out fully and organically, while others seem to exist solely as the remaining fragments of a deteriorating memory. Russo-Young also juxtaposes non-actors with professionals and cinéma vérité with overtly staged scenes. (Be on the lookout for cameos by Joe Swanberg, Aaron Katz and Greta Gerwig.) Even Schnabel’s performance seems purposefully inconsistent — sometimes smooth and methodical, other times stunted and shaky.
Co-written by Russo-Young and Schnabel, You Wont Miss Me portrays a frank perspective of female sexuality. If you do not like listening to women talk about the smell of their pussies, maybe this film is not quite for you; but you will be missing out on a masterfully developed and incredibly intense character study. We spend a mere 80 minutes with Shelly — and she monopolizes the film’s running time — but we end up knowing her so well.
Winner of the 2009 Gotham award for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, You Wont Miss Me is finally getting a theatrical release (thanks to Factory 25). For more information on You Wont Miss Me, go to: www.factorytwentyfive.com/ywmm