Better Things

Better Things ★★★½

The December Project: Film #62

Duane Hopkins' short film Love Me or Leave Me Alone had me at once fixated and frustrated, allured by the immensity of his imagery yet repelled by the needless minimalism of his storytelling. Here, in his feature debut, he manages much the same effect. Better Things looks amazing: indeed I had no intention of watching it at first, merely happened to come across it on TV right as I was about to go to bed and was totally seduced by its opening shots. Hopkins is an extremely gifted visualist, making stunningly beautiful the otherwise dismal landscapes his disenfranchised characters occupy. I only wish he could make these people as rich, their lives as appealing, their existences as vividly sketched. His fondness for eschewing dialogue and telling his stories with the camera is no problem by me, but he just doesn't seem to know how to do it comprehensively yet. By the end of Better Things, I knew nothing about any of these characters, nor knew why I should want to. No matter how beautiful, the scenery should never be more appealing than those who occupy it.