by Peter Suderman
As I predicted in my review, it looks like a number of high-profile critics weren't too kind to Be Kind Rewind (if only Reihan had reviewed it!). David Edelstein seems sort of amused by it, but says it could have used "a little slickness." Jonathan Rosenbaum wants to like it, but writes that "it's hard not to gag on the cuteness," and Anthony Lane is even harsher: "Every minute of Gondry’s film is irrefutable proof that charm is not enough."
Maybe not enough for Lane, but it's certainly enough for me. Each of Gondry's previous three films has been a paean to artistic melancholy. He's got a penchant for moping, innocent, childlike protagonists with a creative bentJim Carrey's melancholy cartoonist in Eternal Sunshine, Gael García Bernal's Stephane in The Science of Sleep. And to some degree, he romanticizes these free-spirited child-men, but also doesn't force them into hero modes that might be more commercial but aren't supported by the characters. Instead, he allows them to experience failure, gently and with dignity, and then lightly suggests that maybe, just maybe, sometimes failure is okay. Yes, it's an uncommercial creative's fantasy, a universe not driven by markets or popular opinion, but it's a refreshingly different view of the world than the manic success-driven ethos that fuels most Hollywood productions.