Steve Collins’ I’ve Got Issues provides a much-to-be-cherished mix of deadpan irony and disenchantment as it puts forward a tentative solution to human troubles.
“Humans. They struggle. Every day”. You’ve just read the opening lines of Steve Collins’ I’ve Got Issues, and you can sense a low-key statement in there. A bit of atomic-bomb-like footage appears on screen. Then, a Sisyphus-emulator tries to push a car up a definitely too steep hill. Yes, there is kind of a statement in the film you are watching, although a gentle one. As Modernist writer T. S. Eliot would have said, “this is the way the world ends; not with a bang, but a whimper”.
And it is, in fact, a whimper-feeling that drips through the cinematic flesh and bones of I’ve Got Issues. Half dark comedy, half absurdism incarnated in celluloid, Collin’s third feature-length piece of work to date pours a thoughtfully-conceived melange of film history quotations and deadpan knack into one same pot and gives it a good stir. The director’s goal: to find an answer to the question – why do human beings hurt on the inside, and how do they heal?
The path for salvation rides through a sequence of set-type situations that every spectator might have actually witnessed in their offscreen lives. The thin red line between the (consciously) blatantly fake and the abstract runs through expanses of desert that stretch for the time span of a single frame. Beautifully blinding palettes and sparse morsels of dialogue bring to mind Yorgos Lanthimos’s hyper-functional mannerism; the never-ending chain of emotional futility takes after the best moments in Roy Andersson’s filmography. Still, the juiciest bit about I’ve Got Issues is the, at times, appalling acting – which is purposefully done so and makes you spot the underlying misery in Tommy Wiseau’s The Room all the more.
From healers who pay people for referral, to individuals with suicidal tendencies and cute loners with a big heart or magic helpers in the form of local postmen, I’ve Got Issues is born out of those moments when we feel like we can’t take this anymore and that it is time for a textbook nervous breakdown – and it does it all with a very much needed pinch of self-awareness and critical consciousness. Visionary, sardonic, incredibly bitter. Collin’s film turns out to be a fun watch and a wholesome slip of oddly satisfying viewing pleasure, not without luminous openings towards a better future – and a shared one. Eliot might have described his personal living inferno as a waste land; but Collins argues that there are still diamonds scattered among ashes.
I’ve Got Issues opens on VOD on September 18th, 2020.
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