But when it’s appropriate – by gum – I’ll break it out and plant that sucker into my thoughts and eventually my words on the page – as you’ve just seen.
The God Inside My Ear held its Utah premiere at the 5th Annual FilmQuest in Provo, Utah.
Elizia (Linnea Gregg) is having something of a nervous breakdown. Following a hurtful and wholly unexpected breakup with her boyfriend Fred (Joseph Estrade), she falls into a social coma and won’t leave her apartment. But when she finally rejoins her circle of friends, she begins to experience hallucinations, to believe in some hard-core crazy conspiracy theories and basically, to just lose her shit – mentally. Quarter-life crisis? That’s one way to look at it. But as things progress, and her mental state continues to apparently deteriorate – a simple nervous breakdown may be the furthest thing from an explanation.
Holding all of the film’s many wacky pieces together, is the exceptional lead performance from Linnea Gregg as Elizia. In all of the situations, Gregg is required to hit practically every emotion one could think of. She cries, she’s hysterical, she’s confused, she’s angry, she’s violent, she’s sarcastic and blank. Like the film itself, there’s so much going on for Elizia, and Gregg navigates all of it like a true champ. If you had to pick out the one true highlight of the film, it would be the work of this expert thespian.
Joseph Estrade (who appears in the film as Elizia’s ex-boyfriend Fred) took on multiple duties while working behind the camera on The God Inside My Ear (camera operator, producer, sound designer), but nothing will impress you more than his amazing work under the title of editor. As mentioned above, the film itself is wacky and what I would describe as “busy”. And I don’t use that as a derogatory term. The film is a full-to-brimming dish of delicious eye-candy – much of it attributed to the wild choices made in the editing room by Estrade. Split-screens, trippy drugged-up visuals – and any other film technique you can imagine, are employed to further illustrate Elizia’s state of mind.
At the festival, and during the screening’s Q&A, much was made about the film’s very limited budget (micro-budget in most circles) and I won’t list the amount here. But once you have an idea of how little was actually spent to bring this unique vision to life – you’ll be far more impressed than you might have been after simply watching the film. FYI – the budget number is actually listed on the film’s IMDb page – but do yourself a favor and wait to check out that tidbit of info until after you’ve screened the film. Prepare to be impressed.
Visually, the film has moments inspired by any number of films out of David Lynch’s catalog and even offers up (in the sequences of Elizia at work) something straight out of Napoleon Dynamite.
And if you didn’t think the film could get any stranger than what you’ll experience in the first hour – just in its overall aesthetic – you’ll soon encounter neighborhood dogs and everyday garden gnomes behaving in ways you’ll not expect.
Yes, it’s that kind of off-the-wall film.
I had a problem with some clumsy, last minute exposition, dumped on the audience by a random cab driver. I’m a bit wishy-washy on this. The structure of the film and the overall tone aren’t delivered in your average run-of-the-mill way, so this smattering of important plot info could potentially be forgiven. But the fact that I noticed the heavy-handedness of it – tells me that it’s something of an issue.
On that note, the film does offer up some final explanation (nicely wrapping up most loose ends). Without it, there might have been a little head-scratching going on during the film’s end credit sequence (the film could definitely be described as an “arthouse” film, i.e “esoteric”).
But I’m never one to enjoy spoon-feeding. And despite the placement of all of this important information – all at once (I would have liked more than just the “clue-in” imagery presented throughout the film) – it was a welcome piece to help complete the puzzle.
At this year’s FilmQuest, in addition to being named an Official Selection – The God Inside My Ear was also nominated for several awards, including: Best Feature Screenplay – Joe Badon, Best Actress in a Feature – Linnea Gregg, Best Editing in a Feature, Best Score for a Feature and Best Costumes for a Feature.
And this wouldn’t be a festival review of mine, if I didn’t make note of what the festival judges may have missed – in my humble opinion. Joe Badon was definitely worthy of a Best Feature Director nomination. I mean, the vivid vision he brought to the screen is – well, I’ll use “mind-fuck” once again. And perhaps a Best Cinematography for a Feature nomination might have been in order as well.