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I Melt with You

2011 | 129 min | R | 2.39:1

I Melt with You


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Theatrical release date

 09 December, 2011

Country of origin

 United States

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Screenshots from I Melt with You Blu-ray

I Melt with You Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, December 8, 2011

“I Melt with You” is more of a sensorial carpet bombing than a motion picture. Although cast with name actors and detailing significant emotions, the film is lost in its own swirl of pretention and indulgent HD cinematography. It’s a mess, but that’s exactly how director Mark Pellington intends it to be, dragging unlucky viewers through a military training field of sickly colors and harsh textures, loud music and obnoxious entitlement. “I Melt with You” is a rough sit, always distracted and synthetic, and while I’m sure a tolerant few will find smears of art buried somewhere beneath the relentless excess, I feel most who approach the feature will walk away with bloodshot eyes, tinnitus, and a urgent feeling to never sit through another Mark Pellington movie.

Assembling for their yearly reunion at a palatial coastal house, college buddies Ron (Jeremy Piven), Jonathan (Rob Lowe), Richard (Thomas Jane), and Tim (Christian McKay) are ready to cut loose with mountains of drugs and gallons of booze. Freed from their stuffy lives of failure and responsibility, the gang plans a week of reckless behavior to shake off the fortysomething blues, reconnecting in a youthful manner that makes each individual reconsider their mismanaged lives and reflect upon reservoirs of regret. When the week spirals out of control, a suicide pact scribbled decades ago resurfaces, threatening the group with their former idealistic selves, escalating tension as the men ponder the wreckage of their once simple lives.

“I Melt with You” is a movie soaked in chemical excess. The seemingly professional men gathering to celebrate their friendship are actually creating a reason to numb themselves to the horrors of the outside world, reclining in indistinct memories and coke-fueled bonding sessions. They carry the false hope that their astronomical high will somehow reconnect them to their naive past, away from failed marriages, professional demise, and artistic disappointment. Pellington doesn’t merely want his audience to understand the fractured perspective of the unit, he desires a visceral reaction, employing rapid editing, frequent camera changes, and regurgitations of color to assist in the immersion. Also speeding the pulse of the picture is a throbbing soundtrack of ‘80’s hits and alternative nation classics (including Adam Ant, U2, and Melle Mel), cranked to provide an exhaustive aural pounding that best assists the stimulant parade the boys are engaged in.

It’s an exhausting picture to watch, always provoking with its ADD-style and lengthy monologues about nothing in particular. Pellington keeps “I Melt with You” (scripted by Glenn Porter) dipped in the misery of maturation, including reminders concerning the death of punk and the rise of accountability, encouraging these men to regress further during the week, lamenting their personal choices. Pellington hopes the smash the structure of the story through his directorial punches, building meaning through abstraction, doing his best to disrupt the formula. It’s intentionally excessive, introducing a feeling of detachment and irritation that doesn’t belong in a story hinged on intimate acts of examination. A few good scenes (including an impromptu party with townies where the men encounter younger versions of themselves) are hammered into meaninglessness by the director, who rarely provides the compelling essentials in character and patience that could justify the picture’s obscene two-hour run time. Pellington takes a jackhammer to the delicate feelings contained within “I Melt with You,” making a proper interpretation a test of moviegoing endurance I wouldn’t recommend.

After an interminable hour of set-up, “I Melt with You” slips into thriller mode, providing Porter’s script with a little more room to breathe, introducing a cop (Carla Gugino) concerned about the destructive habits of the revelers. It’s a jarring transition, but the distraction keeps the imbibing at bay, relaxing Pellington’s need to aggressively tinker with the filmmaking elements. While the script seems to lean toward sympathy for the group, there’s no gas left in the tank inside the ruinous hour two. Even the introduction of the suicide pact retains little shock value, its significance scrubbed away by a director more consumed with color timing than a tight, meaningful unfurling of hopelessness.

Starring: Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, Carla Gugino, Arielle Kebbel, Sasha Grey
Director: Mark Pellington

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