French director Michel Gondry, best know for his elaborate and inventive films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind, brings us a new study in collaborative cinema with his latest The We and The I.
During a bus ride in Paris over 20 years ago, Gondry observed a group of kids and how their behavior shifted as each one exited and the group dwindled. Through colleague, Carey Clark, who is the Visual Arts Director at The Point, a youth and community development center in the south Bronx, he came across some of Hunts Point's most artistically gifted residents. Gondry screened "Be Kind Rewind" at The Point and explained the idea for his next project, a "movie about the bus" using kids from the community. Many eager teenagers, some not even aware of Gondry's fame and success, began to participate, and over a period of four years they honed stories and perfected a script in after school acting workshops, which consisted of improvisation and storytelling, often unearthing emotionally powerful experiences from the teens.
The We and The I is a combination of script by an established film auteur Gondry, with Jeffrey Grimshaw and Paul Proch, and the real life struggles and spirit of the young artistic community of Hunts Point in The Bronx.
The chaotic energy of a group of teenagers, just released from high school, and taking over a city bus is the fuel of this tale. As the teenagers endure and act out a wide range of teenage dramas on the lengthy ride home we realize the charm of the movie is knowing how Gondry and his actors, together, created something authentic and of the moment. Although we can't escape their foul mouths, gadget obsessions and cruel leanings (it is after all a movie about teenagers), it's refreshing to see a funny and entertaining look at the complexities of adolescence set in The Bronx, instead of the drug and gang violence themes too often depicted. A world that is often ignored and stereotyped is now celebrated with an insider's view and a touch of Gondry magic.