08 February 2008

The United States of Leland

Leland and Becky Has anyone seen The United States of Leland? I sought it out mainly because it's the only film that (possibly my favourite musician in the world) Jeremy Enigk has scored - and I must say he did a damn good job of it too. Unfortunately the soundtrack was never released, and I think it may have had something to do with it not being commercially viable enough for the label to want to release it. Which is really such a shame considering that Set It On Fire is the song that made me fall completely in love with Enigk's music. There are also a couple of Pixies' songs in there too - 'Gigantic' and 'Hangwire'. Leland Aside from music though, Leland is a quite a strange and unique film, though it really doesn't seem so on the surface as it is cinematographically quite ordinary. Understandably, it's been compared to Donnie Darko but I really think that this film is a whole different animal.

Basically, Leland murders a retarded child and claims to have no memory of the event, or of why he did it. He is sent to prison to await trial and his teacher (an aspiring author) there tries to make sense of his crime while at the same time attempting to write a book about him. As with every good film, the minute details of the plot aren't really key to getting to the heart of the film. Leland has an atmosphere that is as full of sorrow as it is of beauty - and is as much an exploration of human strength as it is of human frailty. It's a film I find so difficult to talk about because it hit me on a very fundamental level and it's really films like these that remind me how powerful art is when it comes to sharing human experience. Leland & Ryan In Leland I found a very unique expression of a simple human inability to deal with transience and the sadness behind things - and this was really well-illustrated by Leland's encounter with the Calderon family. Sure, there are a lot of films that deal with similar themes, but I'd never before seen a film that was so close to my own personal experience of transience. By the end of the film, we see how Leland has become so acutely aware of the human suffering and sadness in every experience that it makes him unable to function normally. The film doesn't really offer any real kind of resolution to this but it does manage to offer a lot of hope, in spite of the bleak subject matter. I wonder why writer/director Matthew Ryan Hoge hasn't done anything since.


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My name is Abigail and you can find out more about me here. Also you can email me here.
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