I am Not a Hipster
I am not a Hipster
Brooke Hyde is what I call the “Typical Sundance Anti-Hero.” A tortured musician who insists on inflicting his own pain on others, Brooke starts off playing a set of original tunes to a small crowd of loyal fans, but partway through the first song, he rushes to the bathroom to throw up. We follow him through a series of encounters with other characters, enough to show just how sullen and unlikable he is. But, even as Brooke is stuck in the clichéd “Depressed Musician” mode, his family comes to the rescue with an unconditional love and support that makes his incessant whining almost worth sitting through. Brooke misses his deceased mother, and takes it out on everyone around him. Though Clark, his “manager” friend, sets up a promotional interview for him at one of San Diego’s underground indie radio stations, Brooke makes it clear he’s not willing to play ball. He spends the interview berating the DJ and dragging the conversation down to his own level of depression and gloomy self-destructiveness. Even though Clarke, wonderfully played by Alvaro Orlando, sticks by him like a puppy dog, Brooke spends his days smoking pot, sleeping in, ignoring repeated calls from his family telling Brooke that they are coming for a visit, and watching video of the Japanese Tsunami on his computer. Until one day, when his family does in fact show up, which is when the whole movie really takes off. Almost acting as one voice, Brooke’s three sisters provide a ray of sunshine for him, whether he likes it or not. They won’t be pulled down by his tractor beam of darkness, and instead open the windows wide, allowing light to spill into his room, his life, and his soul. Even though Brooke still avoids his father, who also avoids him, it is clear that Brooke’s family is a source of strength and comfort for him. And when we join them for the burial-at-sea of their mother, walls of defensiveness and pride come crashing down in a moment of genuine humor and respect between father and son. The result is a baptism of sorts. Brooke is able to move forward with his life with a renewed sense of hope and optimism, while the family leaves him knowing that they have done some good in his life. Only after this can Brooke truly perform again, which he does with an original set for his still-loyal fans.
I came in to “I am Not a Hipster” with reservations. I really wasn’t up to seeing yet another tortured young artist who hates the world kind of film. And frankly, for the first twenty minutes, that’s what the movie presented. However, when Brooke’s sisters showed up, the positive portrayal of family and the genuine love displayed on screen was enough to lighten the mood and bring this movie into a good place for me. Overall, this was the most delightful surprise of the festival for me (not counting Grabbers – see my review below). I enjoyed the pace of the movie and the eventual turn of character. In the end I was satisfied both emotionally and spiritually, which is more than I can say for a lot of films. The director (and editor) set a great pace with the editing and the music was terrific – really setting the tone of the film within the authentic sound of the San Diego Indie scene. In fact, I enjoyed the film so much I came home and immediately ordered Short Term 12, his grand-jury prize winning short from Sundance a number of years ago. We’ll see if the magic holds!