The last hour of I Melt with You, is akin to that feeling you get in a plane, when the turbulence kicks into high gear, and you’re absolutely certain the plane is about to go down. You start looking at the stewardessses, trying to read their eyes for signs of distress. You’re clasping to the armrest, trying to keep yourself from grabbing on to the passenger next to you. You might have a book you’re pretending to read, trying to maintain some dignity. But you’re certain the plane is going to crash, and after 20 minutes of that feeling, the fear and adrenaline, the heart pounding, and the near tears, you might even say to yourself, “Just do it already. Just fucking go down, plane, because I can’t bear this feeling any more. If I’m going to die, goddamnit, let’s get it over with.” It’s a completely helpless feeling, and the only thing stronger than it is your pride, you’re need to save face, not show your weakness in front of the other passenger. You put on that brave face, and you just wait for the plane to fall out of the sky. At least then, it’ll be over with.
I dislike that experience more than anything, and watching I Melt with You, it’s exactly how I felt. I wanted the bad things to happen so I wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. I couldn’t stomach the mounting dread. I know that sounds like a really elaborate way of describing a bad movie, but it’s actually something of a compliment. It’s a heavy fucking movie. Profound is not exactly the word for it, and it’s certainly not thought provoking. I don’t know, really; it just is. And I wish it wasn’t.
The director, Mark Pellington, cut his teeth on music videos during the height of music videos. If you grew up in the late 80s or early 90s, you’re probably familiar with his work, videos like Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” and U2’s “One.” They were usually a series of evocative images meant to heighten the feeling of listening to the music. Those images usually made no sense, and they rarely had anything to do with the song lyrics. They were like image poetry. I Melt with You is cinematic poetry. The kind that really bums you out. It stars Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, and Christian McKay. It also stars a very moody soundtrack, and a glimpse at Sasha Grey’s breast, and Carla Gugino as a police officer. It’s about these four men, who reunite every year to escape their mundane lives, to do massive hardcore drugs, and reminisce, and bond, and talk about how much they hate their lives. Thomas Janes is a failed novelist working as a teacher. Rob Lowe is a divorced doctor whose child calls his step-father Daddy. Jeremy Piven is a married man in trouble with the SEC. Christian McKay is a depressive. The first full hour of I Melt with You is a montage of drugs and music and sex. The last hour is a montage of drugs and music and suck.
I Melt with You is a meditation of manhood, on middle age, on failure, and on crashing and burning your life. And when I say “meditation,” I mean it: It’s like Terrence Malick meshed with one of Mark Pellington music video. It feels like drowning in stress. It’s long, it’s torturous, it’s excruciating, and unpleasant, and banal, and difficult and, it’s nothing I’d ever revisit. It’s too overwhelming. It’s like finding a pressure point on your body that triples all of your anxiety. Like what I imagine the moment before death must feel like. It’s intense. It’s too much. It’s kind of awful. But, if you can make it past the first hour, it’s also kind of great.