JANICZA Bravo’s film Lemon introduces us to our lead character as he sleeps in a puddle of his own urine. A middle-aged man who has lost control of his life and is declining in infantile fashion. This pitiful image persists throughout the rest of a film that revels in the derision of such pathetic male suffering.
The man in questions is Isaac (Brett Gelman), an actor living in California with blind girlfriend Ramona (Judy Greer). He teaches at a local theatre, hanging on every word of teacher’s pet Alex (Michael Cera) and berating young female actress Tracy (Gillian Jacobs) for her poor acting skill. That is all before Isaac returns to his own underwhelming acting career as the face of Hep C and Dignity Diaper advertising campaigns. At these jobs, we can see the full circle of Isaac’s professional resentment as he faces similar belittling treatment to that he dishes out to Tracy.
Heather Christian’s score of disorderly and irritating wind instruments underlines Isaac’s out-of-tune existence as Ramona ends their 10-year relationship. A break-up that causes Isaac to descend into yet more despondency and lower levels of social depravity.
This is a difficult concept to carry off but Bravo does it with zesty flairs of style. Yet Lemon is ultimately an acquired taste. A film that relies on one’s ability to cling on through relentless La La Land misery and squeeze some enjoyment out of this unapologetically bitter lemon.
Lemon is available to watch on Sky CinemaThis was review 10/30 in April’s Monthly Film Challenge – female filmmakers.