The We and the I
It's the last day of school and a horde of chattering adolescents squeeze on to a Bronx-bound bus. The backseat is the elongated throne belonging to four bullying alpha males; down front an assortment of geeks, freaks and beauty queens jostle for space on the food chain. Even more energetic than The We and the I's greenhorn cast is its director, Michel Gondry. The Frenchman's chaotic love letter to teen turmoil crackles with wit and imagination.
Visually and sonically we could be watching a movie from the late '80s: the washed out, sun-bleached aesthetic looks like early Spike Lee, while the soundtrack (Young MC, Run DMC, Slick Rick) belongs to these kids' parents. Rather than being a period piece, however, we're very much in the here and now, with smart phones used to communicate as often as smart mouths.
The film's claustrophobic one-location setting is continually opening out thanks to comic digressions and gonzo flashbacks, which are vividly brought to life in Gondry’s trademark sticky-back-plastic style. It’s not all whimsy, though. The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director doesn’t shy away from the cruelty kids can inflict on each other when they move in packs or the loneliness felt by those who find themselves excluded from the crowd.