“The Life You Don’t Plan,” a review of “Softness of Bodies” by Nathan H. Box
Recommendation: 3/5 Stars, STREAM
Director: Jordan Blady, Writers: Jordan Blady, Starring: Dasha Nekrasova, Morgan Krantz, Lena Reinhold
Plot: “An American poet living in Berlin hopes to win a prestigious grant while dealing with her former relationships, a rival poet, and her own penchant for stealing things.” -IMDB
Review: For my fourth film of the 2018 Los Angeles Film Festival, I set my sights on a film focused on a young, American poet living in Berlin. By doing so, I sat down with the intention of learning from a kindred spirit. Instead, I was forced to wrestle with someone who is the complete opposite of me. With every scene, I had to do battle with a character I didn’t like or trust. I also had to figure out what the writer/director wanted me to learn from the movie.
“Softness of Bodies” centers around Charlotte Parks played by Dasha Nerkasova. Charlotte, in many ways, is an American cliché. She is self-involved, consumed with the idea of self-importance, and believes the world owes her something. In her mind, to be a great poet, she must suffer for her art. This suffering comes in many forms; the sexual partner who is cheating on his girlfriend to be with Charlotte, being an American abroad, the job as a barista, her lack of money, the thrill of stealing, and other poets who stand as rivals. Faced with these conditions, we as audience members, are waiting to see if she will collapse under the pressure or will she rise.
This suffering leads Charlotte down a path where she is provided an opportunity to pursue a prestigious grant. As bystanders, we get to see her poem in progress mirrored alongside life events from which she is supposed to be drawing lessons. This learning gives you hope; hope that Charlotte will learn one doesn’t have to suffer for their art and the most fascinating lessons come from the life you didn’t plan. Yet, hope is crushed when Charlotte is nabbed for shoplifting and confronted by the girlfriend who is tired of the cheating.
In the end, there isn’t much character growth for Charlotte, at least not to a degree that will leave most people satisfied. Charlotte is uncaring, unconcerned, and unbelievable. Still, you find yourself enamored with her. Charlotte is a train wreck you can’t turn away from which is why I recommend streaming this one.
Be good to each other,
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