Creating a raw, emotional and music-driven film showcasing how old friends deal with their failures definitely has the potential to be intriguing. Music video and feature film director Mark Pellington strived to do just that with his new thriller, I Melt With You, and succeeded to a certain degree. While he was able to showcase the natural bond between men in I Melt With You by casting actors who quickly related to each other, unfortunately, the director was unable to enhance the film beyond that, as he included an undeveloped story and uninteresting plot points.
I Melt With You follows four old college friends, Richard (Thomas Jane), Ron (Jeremy Piven), Jonathan (Rob Lowe) and Tim (Christian McKay), as they reunite for a week-long vacation in Big Sur. They come together to celebrate Tim’s birthday and catch up with each other. On the surface, all four look like typical men in their mid-forties, with careers and families. But as the week progresses, the four discover secrets about one another, such as Jonathan selling prescriptions from his medical practice and Richard not working on another book because he’s lost his inspiration as a writer.
To deal with their mounting professional and personal problems, the friends become consumed with rock ‘n’ roll, drugs and parties with much younger women. Their fun, however, stops when Tim follows through with a long, forgotten promise from their youth. Richard, Ron and Jonathan are left to clean up with the mess, including fending off the questions of local police officer Laura (Carla Gugino).
Pellington did a fantastic job with casting Jane, Piven, Lowe and McKay in the main cast. The four genuinely bonded as though they have been friends since their college years. While they still care about each other, the actors developed their characters to become jaded as their lives didn’t turn out the way they had hoped. Richard, Ron, Jonathan and Tim started their friendship with an innocent idealism that they could conquer the world together. In the present day, however, they have all become disillusioned over the fear of losing their identities and the guilt they’re experiencing over their failures.
Pellington, who has directed music videos for such artists as Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails and Foo Fighters, brilliantly scored the film by including songs that perfectly matched what the characters were feeling and experiencing. The soundtrack, which includes songs from such artists as U2 and Sex Pistols, shows that the activities the four main characters engage in, including drugs and sex, are cross-generational. Whether Ron was feeling guilty for not better providing for his family or Jonathan was upset his son doesn’t view him as a father, the characters’ angst is represented by the very rock songs they have bonded over.
While the main cast had a natural bond and Pellington included an excellent, intense soundtrack to I Melt With You, the film failed to give an intriguing plot to the complex characters. The movie aims to allow the audience to empathize with Richard, Ron, Jonathan and Tim, and allow them to understand what the characters are all feeling. However, the ways the characters deal with their failures are convoluted, such as Richard verbally attacking some of the college students who are fans of his book. The characters are quick to blame others for their misfortunes, and fail to take responsibility for their own actions.
While Richard, Ron, Jonathan and Tim are all multifaceted characters striving to improve their lives, Laura is unfortunately underdeveloped and disposable to the storyline of I Melt With You. While it’s logical that the police would investigate the main characters’ partying ways in the sparsely populated and quiet region, Laura seems uninterested in what the men are really going through and feeling. The one-dimensional character fails to showcase Gugino’s talent and ability to connect with her roles.
Pellington deserves credit for wanting to create a visceral and music-driven film that showcases his life experiences as a man in his forties. He cast brilliant actors and also created a memorable soundtrack to show what his complex main characters were feeling in I Melt With You. Unfortunately, he failed to create an intriguing plot to showcase his characters, therefore making the film feel trite and uninspired.
Director Mark Pellington creates complex characters in his new thriller I Melt With You, but unfortunately fails to deliver a realistic, intriguing story.