A creatively overflowing blast of awesomely Afro-boho weirdness, Terence Nance’s diaristic chronicle of an it’s-complicated connection with a woman named Namik (Namik Minter) pulls out all the stops in portraying personal heartbreak by any cinematic means necessary. Her beauty is, in fact, the only thing that’s simplified here: What is posited, per the film’s baritone narrator, as a short designed to woo this sweetheart soon morphs into chaptered sketches including stop-motion animation, toon vignettes that owe a big debt to Emily Hubley, embedded “answer” films from Minter herself (or are they?) and various meta-musings on the very movie you are currently watching. Verbose voiceovers and snatches of creaky 78rpm blues recordings fill the soundtrack. Allegedly real digital-video footage of the twosome mixes with avant-artsy imaginings of inner monologues. Screen text is scrawl-redacted to protect the guilty.
It would all be horribly self-indulgent, were it not for Nance’s vivacious way of combining these various strains into something singular; it’s hard to think of a more original, mind-blowing reinvention of the usual boy-meets-girl story. Such a nonstop go-for-broke sensibility can be too much of a good thing, of course, and there are moments when the filmmaker’s mix-and-match methodology feels tuned to the key of migraine. Overambitiousness can turn a valentine into hot air and white noise, but it can also serve as a calling card for an artist finding his pitch—and Nance is indeed an artist, pure and simple.
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