Mark Pellington's Sundance disaster, titled 'I Melt With You', is one of the strangest, incredibly maddening and tonally challenged films that I have seen all year. There are pros and cons - more of the latter than the former - and it is easy to see why so many critics have slashed it to bits. With that being said, it is certainly not as bad as everyone thinks it is, but it could have been a whole hell of a lot better.
The film focuses on the yearly reunion of four friends who went to college together in the eighties. Every one of these individuals somehow failed to live the dream, and as a result, they have taken questionable paths in life. Over the course of a drug-filled week, the men reminisce on the past, proceed to wax philosophical on the present, listen to the music of their youth, party with girls, drink obscene amounts of hard liquor, snort mountains of coke, and pop every pill known to mankind. Between this foursome, moments of sobriety are extremely rare - the main characters remain intoxicated for at least two thirds of the running time.
The 'Big Chill' meets 'Scarface' vibe comes to a screeching halt when one of the men, racked with guilt over the death of his lover, commits suicide - a tragic occurrence which is partially linked to a pact the four men made twenty five years ago, which all of them, save for one, managed to forget. You read that correctly. Twenty five years prior to this particular reunion, these boys made a binding promise to one another - a contract, signed in blood. When the film reveals exactly what the promise entails, it is a shocking discovery.
This begins a downward spiral that neither one of them can escape. It is here that the tone of the film changes for the worse, and as a result, becomes more than a bit preposterous. The cast includes Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, and Christian McKay. The performances are hit (Christian McKay) and miss (just about everyone else, especially Thomas Jane).
The first half of the film is pretty decent, and I was disappointed to see it devolve so quickly. What could have been an extremely provocative study of broken dreams and arrested development becomes a hopelessly melodramatic pile of drivel.
Rated R, 122 minutes, directed by Mark Pellington, released by Magnolia Pictures. Available on Blu-ray and DVD on February 28th from Magnolia Home Entertainment.