Thursday, June 13, 2024

“IT DOESN’T MATTER”

THE STORY – A young Black man deals with his issues of poverty, drug use and a fractured family life as he recalls a series of trips across America and into the margins of homelessness and desperation. Josh Mond’s new film is a low-fi picaresque journey that explores memory and truth.

THE CAST – Christopher Abbott & Jay Will

THE TEAM –  Josh Mond (Director/Writer), Oscar Bodden & Alice de Matha (Writers)

THE RUNNING TIME – 86 Minutes


If you’re going to call your film “It Doesn’t Matter,” you’re not just delivering a hostage to fortune; you’re giving it your car keys, your house, and everything you own. Perhaps in recognition of this foolhardy titling, the first thing we see is the title being tattooed on an arm. This is going to be owned, is the suggestion. But, then again, are we really seeing a tattoo, or is it fake? Whose arm is that? Questions of authenticity and truthfulness permeate the film.

Alvaro (Jay Will) is a young Black man from Honduras, who came to the United States as a child and was raised in Brooklyn. He begins telling stories with his friend, a filmmaker, Chris (Christopher Abbott), about the turbulent last seven years of his life. He’s undergone a series of hardships and encounters at the very margins of American life; working various jobs, bumming off friends, and wandering from New York to Hawaii and Portland to Las Vegas meeting characters who themselves are in various states of disaster. Fascinated, Chris asks him for videos, which Alvaro provides as he constantly films his experience. “It Doesn’t Matter” is the result of Chris’ filmmaking and Alvaro’s vlogging.

There’s nothing in the film to tell you that this is a work of fiction. The video calls and Alvaro’s films show us the story with a verité, while he – often in conversation with Chris on the soundtrack – recounts his feelings and the story behind what we are seeing. He’s a smoker, so this often has a laconic easiness that is broken by the occasional bout of blind rage.

The authenticity can sometimes seem forced. After all, schooled in reels and TikTok, an audience might find Alvaro’s video diary dull and repetitive, dominated by many shots of the ground as he walks or selfies as he pisses or lights a joint. It’s as if the director, Josh Mond (“James White”), and his collaborators have decided on certain criteria to guarantee the “real” – boredom and griminess high among them. The characters in Alvaro’s vlogs, whom we briefly meet along the way, are glimpsed through dope smoke: a firearms enthusiast high on shrooms, a rich boy living at his aunt’s house who takes Alvaro to Vegas, and to some extent, Chris. There is a definite beguiling quality to these moments. It all looks exactly like what it purports to be: a documentary featuring much raw footage. Even the interludes of “Fritz the Cat”-like animation by Antony F. Scheppherd are consistent with a documentary retelling reality.

A scene at the end of “It Doesn’t Matter,” suggests that all memory is tied to our technology for preserving it. Video cameras have given way to cell phones, and who knows what we’ll use in the next years to archive our lives. It can be as indelible as a tattoo or as ephemeral as the Cloud.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - As a pastiche of a certain style of documentary, it’s very convincing.

THE BAD - Its formless meandering becomes dull.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 6/10

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>As a pastiche of a certain style of documentary, it’s very convincing.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>Its formless meandering becomes dull.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>6/10<br><br>"IT DOESN'T MATTER"