Sunday, 29 April 2018

And Then I Go

More and more we are starting to address the fact that most mass violent acts are committed by one identifiable group, men. What are the qualities men share which make them susceptible to becoming so violent. Vincent Grashaw has attempted to explore what leads one young man into a horrible act of violence. His film And Then I Go takes an unflinching look at a rather common journey through a young person's introduction to, and experience living through, toxic masculinity. It is painful in all its everyday banality, in how relatable it is.

Grashaw balances two things brilliantly which is where I think And Then I Go finds its power. He refuses to dehumanize his subject by making him a monster, but also refuses to let him off the hook, or the people around him. And Then I Go paints a picture of the totality of the problem, the alienation inherent in masculine culture and the nurturing of that culture through mainstream western culture. Grashaw focuses on all the little day to day things that are really quite "normal," so recognizable to anyone who lives in America. He brings into stark focus the way this chips away at a person and the way we participate in that chipping away.

Young Edwin encounters little moments again and again where he is taught to be aggressive, to reject and fear femininity and homosexuality, to hate himself, to hate others, to subjugate his feelings. But none of it is explicit. Grashaw keeps it all within familiar moments which we all live through day after day. And Then I Go is everyday American life. It is the everyday culture of violence and anger which is so prevalent to how we teach boys to be.

And Then I Go makes us care about Edwin while we watch him deconstruct. We don't get to hate him, to blame media or video games, to blame bad parenting. Edwin is essentially human. We see him feel and breathe and think and love. But we also see how he is blocked at every turn, not by one outside factor, but by the world he is growing up in.

And when we get to the end, Grashaw doesn't linger gratuitously on the violence. Instead we are focused on Edwin's own destruction. We focus on his face and the way he is destroyed. It is incredibly painful. He is a child. He is a human being. He is ruined by all that he has been taught to be. 

And Then I Go
Starring: Arman Darbo, Sawyer Barth, Melanie Lynskey, Justin Long, Tony Hale
Director: Vincent Grashaw
Writers: Jim Shepherd, Brett Haley

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