Critique: ‘Human Nature’ (2001)

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Directory of World Cinema: American Independent 1, edited by John Berra, published by Intellect Books, 2010

This is the film that should have launched the directorial career of Michel Gondry and built upon the developing reputation of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, but it is not; for that, Kaufman would have to wait one more year for Adaptation (2002), directed by Spike Jonze, and only then was Gondry allowed to helm another Kaufman script: the superior Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Human Nature premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, but this is the only prestige the film has ever really enjoyed. Compared to the other films directed by Gondry or written by Kaufman, this film is the least-heaped with awards, positive reviews, and box-office receipts. This is the film that people watch for the sake of fandom completion, cinephilic curiosity, or by accident; yet, the film is not terrible, it is just too complicated and too simple at the same time to be coherent in its aims and attraction.

The structure of the film suggests a bawdy sex comedy in which love trysts and secret agendas dominate the characters’ motivation. However, the film strives to embrace the lightness that this type of film fundamentally requires by filtering the plot through references to scientific and philosophical landmarks and figures that exist in the hinterlands of our social consciousness…

 

The full 700 word version of this review is published in Directory of World Cinema: American Independent 1, edited by John Berra, published by Intellect Books, 2010. 

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