I love making fun of the 2001 movie Life is like a house. That’s an easy target partly because it’s an excellent maudlin movie, but more so because I like to imagine how they decided on the title.
“See, the movie is about a character renovating a house, but do you think people will understand that it’s not just a house?”
The girl first
Good action, but no padding and heavy hand.
“Wait. Is it true? I missed it. I think it’s all about a house.”
“No no! The house… it’s a metaphor!”
“Oh snap! Do you think we can call it The house represents life? “
“It’s a little on the nose, don’t you think?”
“Fine. I know you’re married to the idea of metaphor, but have you considered an analogy instead?”
“Sounds literary! I like it!”
No one will do Life is like a house like a movie these days – again one of those mid-budget adult movies that people don’t pay $15 per ticket to see – but someone will totally turn it into a TV series limited, this gives the viewer a chance to really, really understand what the house stands for.
Twenty years ago, the new HBO Max – BBC One in the UK – limited series The girl first will also be a movie, a $25 million thriller starring Ashley Judd or Jennifer Lopez or Halle Berry. It may not be great, but with a run of 95 minutes, it’s going to be hugely profitable, especially on DVD.
Instead, J.P. Delaney stretched his bestseller by four hours, which is pretty much the bare minimum to call itself a TV show, which is at least two hours more than the story line can be justified. It’s repetitive, predictable, and comfortable longer than my patience with house-based metaphors – you think the opening here is purely coincidental? — and it’s annoying that a feature-length film adaptation still written by Delaney, still directed by Lisa Brühlmann and still starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, and Jessica Plummer could be an author. products in the small category.
Star of The girl first is the house at 1 Folgate Street in London. Designed by architect Edward (Oyelowo), it’s a strictly minimalist masterpiece, all bare concrete walls and stone floors, with a complex artificial intelligence system throughout the house. designed to learn from the inhabitants of the house and also train them in proper maintenance for such an odd space. Edward himself is rather odd and he decided to offer the house at a much lower rent than the market – I watched for four hours in the hope that eventually someone would say the exact low – to those suitable hires, who must go through a rigorous registration process that includes an elaborate one. physiological questionnaire and an interview with Edward.
Edward’s standards are so high that the house has been empty for three years before Jane (Mbatha-Raw) applies. Jane is about to go through a painfully failed pregnancy and she needs the mental reorganization that the house can provide. In Jane, the strangely wounded Edward sees a kind spirit. He had last seen a similar kindred spirit in Emma (Plummer), who lived in the house three years earlier with her boyfriend Simon (Ben Hardy). Emma, who also boasts a recent injury and bears a strong Jane resemblance, is coming to a tragic end of her own.
The house represents life.
“I really don’t think of myself as a minimalist. When you’re constantly getting rid of everything that’s unnecessary or imperfect, it’s amazing how little remains,” says Edward, one of dozens of big claims he’s made about his home, his work. themselves and what they represent.
The house represents marriage/relationships. It represents male obsession and female compulsion and the institutions that underpin both.
The house, whose rules include restrictions on clutter or accessories, represents new beginnings and recovery from trauma.
“Every day I wake up here, all traces of the previous day are gone. Like a clean slate,” Emma commented.
The house embodies very rudimentary Freudian therapy and psychoanalysis.
After one episode, I discovered enough “mystery” of the story that I was left to focus on whether there were supernatural elements present or just hallucinations. Netflix is stupid entertainment Behind her eyes constantly popped into my mind while I was watching – another feature that was introduced into the TV series by industry necessity – and so I kept daydreaming about really weird things that could happen. , waiting for some things never come.
The story is pushed forward not by the story that Delaney and Brühlmann are telling, but by the way they are telling it, with the constant back and forth between the two timelines. The goal is to get you just barely disoriented without having to worry that very little happens technically, according to the plot. Yes, Jane puts her own Crazy Conspiracy Wall, but every reputable heroine does it these days. There are many psychological wheels that revolve around characters that are, by design, uniquely defined by their trauma. The advantage given to the endless length of TV should be a deep understanding of the characters, but if they are merely performing a musical note, you will get a four-hour repetition of three notes about basic (Simon has no past or personality to talk about). It was something that Philip Glass could overlook; The girl first can not.
Although the characters are one-note, mind you, Mbatha-Raw and Plummer don’t play a musical note, and any tension the film creates comes from the two actresses constructing song descriptions. how good their song is. Perhaps because Mbatha-Raw is more established, her sad but fierce performance is not surprising, while I’m not sure I’ve seen Plummer as an actress before. not yet; singer/soap star more than holding his own.
To defy that tradition of the anti-heroes Heathcliff / Rochester – The girl first very architectural in its origins – Oyelowo conveys enough temperament and torment that audiences will likely be divided over his character and whether the show earns the last 10 or 15 minutes or not. I would say “No”, but that’s not Oyelowo’s fault. He’s fierce and scary even in moments when he might not be.
The obligatory callback reference to the house is the show’s final protagonist, and it’s truly a fascinating space well-guided by Brühlmann and cinematographer Eben Bolter, who built the revival box without resorting to cheap stuffy scares.
Even if I had no interest in the show’s core mystery, the performances and production design made me never get bored. The girl first. It’s just a piece of minimalist architecture that could be scaled down a bit.
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