Drama, Art House
Sandra and David are having some issues. I might be as well - my brain is glitching as much as this movie did, and with that, this is definitely one of the strangest movies I've seen. There's not a whole lot out there that moves in the way that "People In Landscape" does. It's like a multi-dimensional glimpse into the journey of different relationships. It may take a while before you know for sure which part of the story you're watching and when it occurs - on which character's timeline. I'm not going to profess ever to be the guy that 'gets' everything when it comes to what I watch. In fact, I'm actually quite comfortable in the knowledge that I don't. What I know for sure is that I love seeing unique things that make my brainwaves dance and cinematography that dares to be different, even if it induces my anxiety, like a lot of this film definitely accomplished through its use of visuals and scathing sounds. It might take me another forty years of my life before I fully understand "People In Landscape," but did I enjoy watching it from start to finish? You better believe I did! There are more amazing ideas in this film than I could count. That extends from how it's told to how it's all presented onscreen.
From dream sequences to scenes that are partially in focus, to split screens, and being in black and white format, writer/director Benjamin Rider has added so much great stuff to this movie - to make it well worth your while to watch and attempt to figure out. The impending divorce of Sandra and David is amazing to watch and instantly sets the standards for how bizarre this film will become. The first meeting between Alex and his mother, Laura, will drop your jaw in awe at how insane it is. The affair between a different Alex that's just at the very beginning of the collapse of another relationship, and the brilliance of the dialogue between the characters you see. No matter which way you slice it or which story you're following, it's pretty likely that "People In Landscape" is entirely unlike anything you've ever seen. It's to the point where even the eating of a plain cheese sandwich greatly contributes to the inescapable oddness of this movie. You get this nagging feeling that it all has to be connected, and you spend half your time trying to figure out how everything is – or if it is at all! Having multiple characters named Alex certainly doesn't help us get a grip on the situation as viewers, which is entirely intentional by design – in fact, a quick conversation between Blake and Sandra will confirm that for you as they discuss it all.
Look. What I do fully understand is that I watch movies and listen to music in a different way than most people do. I appreciate things like how it's been created, the intentions of the people creating it, and the artistic merit something has. I'm a firm believer that art is subjective, interpretive, and, more often than not, produces pure projection from those experiencing something they know nothing about. What "People In Landscape" is ultimately about to me will likely be different than what it's about to you – that's part of the beauty of uniqueness and why it's so naturally enticing. We don't always need to understand everything we see and hear; I'm comfortable admitting I didn't completely get what "People In Landscape" was all about, and I'd probably laugh at anyone who pretends they do. Benjamin Rider is likely the only person who truly knows what "People In Landscape" aims to communicate; the rest of us will have opinions, discussions, and theories, but that's all we can do. What I love about movies as foreign to us as "People In Landscape" are bound to be for most watching, is that no matter what our opinion might be, the last thing anyone is ever going to feel is indifference. I might not know much but pass or fail - I'm okay with either of those scenarios – it's indifference that is the death of art, and anything other than that is welcome.
For the average everyday movie watcher that needs a plotline they can grasp onto, "People In Landscape" would be as challenging as a film could ever be. I personally like to lean into what makes life different and celebrate its randomness with every opportunity I can. For instance, as Mystical Sally says, "and now, a word from our sponsors," we're hit with an actual YouTube ad afterward as we watch. Coincidence? Maybe. Having said that, this whole experience with this film is so crazy and warped that you actually have to question it. The entire movie plays like a dream sequence we can't wake up from, with genuine notes of mystery, drama, and even terrifyingly artistic thrills thrown in; this film seems determined not to just cling to the marrow of your bones but to every fiber of your being. Chances are, any of us watching Jody trying to figure out where her daughter Alex has gone, or what became of Sandra and David's marriage - and why one of the two of them wasn't named Alex, or how Mystic Sally plays a role in what we're watching … you get the point I'm sure. The vast majority of us watching "People In Landscape" are going to come out of the experience yelling, "what did I just watch?" and we'll be no closer to the answer than mere theories.
For some, that's an immediate deal-breaker, and I totally get it – it's fair to say that most viewers need to discern what reality is to be able to enjoy what they're watching. For myself, I'm all about weirdness, like an imaginary hand puppet coming out of a cupboard, or the ninth character in one film named Alex – I will talk about a movie like "People In Landscape" and I will absolutely remember how strange this experience was for years and years. Does it make sense? I don't know! Does it need to? Not as far as I'm concerned. Rider has created compelling cult entertainment that visually and audibly attacks you in such a different way - that you can't help but admire how thought-provoking each aspect of this movie is. From the strength of its writing to the stunning way it's all filmed - and how it ultimately affects you on a sensory level from sight to sound. I might not fully get it – I might never fully get it – but I'm not going to deny the fact that I was wildly entertained by "People In Landscape" or the artistic merit that it has. I'm going to give this film three stars out of five, and I doubt I'll ever watch another movie that's anything like it. The true value of something this undeniably unique is always priceless, 100%.