The We and I is a strange little slice of life film that takes place in the span of a rather long fictional bus route with a group of New York teens. It’s the last day of school in the Bronx and tensions are running high as the year is at an end, and a girl who has been mysteriously missing for a month suddenly shows up to share the bus ride with her friends.
The film had a strange genesis, with Michel Gondry approaching several schools in New York to help him with the project. After hearing from The Point a community center in the Hunts Point section of Bronx, he hosted a screening of Be Kind Rewind with a Q&A for the students. After the screening he had signups for the project and cast all the students who applied, he also used those recruited to flesh out the 25-page treatment of the film with authentic situations and dialog.
The We and I is a very poignant coming of age story, which feels genuine and doesn’t look down on or sensationalize its subjects. The film and performances at times can be a bit uneven, but I found when they were on their marks there is a sincerity there that is rarely seen outside of documentaries. This is all punctuated by a soundtrack masterfully composed of 90s hip-hop, which really helps to add to the overall innocence of the film.
I enjoyed this film quite a bit, because it didn’t take the easy road and exploit the kids showing a much different side of inner city youth than we are use to being depicted in film. The story itself managed to tell a rather cohesive narrative tying together all the different stories at the end giving the viewer a great glimpse into the lives of this generation.
I give The We and I a 3.5 out of 5 stars, the film opens this Friday, March 22nd at the Ritz at the Bourse and is definitely worth checking out.