By Katie Jones
‘LIFE-CHANGING!! THIS IS THE VERY DEFINITION OF A FILM YOU MUST-SEE BEFORE YOU DIE’. These are the words of a reviewer that stand strong above the films online synopsis…The link for this film was forwarded to me by a friend from Kiev. He’s not much of a film buff; in fact I don’t think he’d know how to operate a TV remote, even with guided instructions! All he wrote alongside the link was ‘There are no words to describe this’. I didn’t know how he meant that, given that this was clearly a new indie film, with no press releases or media coverage, and after five minutes of watching the film, I still had no idea…
The film opens with a surreal parody of the copyright and content warnings, before going into what I can only describe as ‘psychedelic’ opening credits, again clearly spoofing the usual stuff we get thrown at us prior to a film starting. Who produced it, who directed it, sponsored it etc., and, in our online age, those insanely irritating adverts that make you wait even longer for that film or episode you’ve been anxiously dying to see online.
We are then taken through a day in the life of a barista in London called ‘Average Joe’. Now, at this point I wasn’t sure whether to stop watching it and to message my friend as to what on earth this was or whether to just turn it off. The protagonist’s daily ritual is scratchy and very, very DIY in its production. Yet the content is captivating. Without any real special effects (except for some beyond-low-budget props), the director has managed to communicate a world where everything has had its gleaming, corporate packaging ripped off it, and now, staring at us, is the horrendous truth about our modern life. From milk cartons and cereal, to a walk down the high street, all products and interactions are unveiled as what they are; cheap and strange. It turns out the quality of the films production is so incredibly low-budget because the writer and director (who remains anonymous, possibly due to the content of the film) created the whole movie in the upstairs attic of an old abandoned garden centre/squat!
Now, if like me, you get the same feeling to turn the film off in these early scenes, DON’T. What follows is exactly what my friend had described, something of which there are simply no words for.
The film hurtles from the live-action, ‘day-in-the-life-of’ into a narrated wonderland of politics, psychedelia and perception. The visuals are taken from a mixture of other classic, and lesser known films, docs, interviews, stand-ups and TV shows which literally dance with the narration. And I can see why. The writer/director is making a point, a hell of a valid point in a way no-one else ever has, and he wants to make what is so obvious to him, explicit to a dumbed-down, conditioned world.
The films content is the layout of the principle of a social engineering organization by the name The Oomun Group. This is portrayed in three simple steps on the film: What are our problems as a human race? What are the solutions? How do we make these solutions a reality? The latter two are very complex matters, but I think this is the only film that has ever done it with such…perfection. The balance of presenting the comical side to how ludicrous our current system, and view of the world are, with how dark and twistedly tragic it all is, is done stunningly.
This film is an absolute life-changer. It firstly made me feel retracted, before pulling me in, swallowing me whole and spitting me out as a whole new creation. You simply cannot look at the world in the same way after viewing it. And you spend the duration of the film being emotionally contorted, guilt, self-hatred, joy, shock, astonishment, melancholic tears run down your face whilst a rush of euphoria comes to take its place before a single tear hits the floor.
The film shows our staggering technological potential, the way our mind is susceptibly conditioned to the world we’ve created and how we solve all this mess, which for me is the most significant factor of this film. Millions of social change films have been made, I’ve seen a handful, and have only really watched a bunch of hippies moaning about our world problems in these films. The Great Everything & The Nothing documents those solutions. In a wonderful way. Focusing on the importance of our own individual focus, self-government and a return to common-sense.
To think it got through to my Ukrainian pal with the same vigour as it did me gives evidence to this film’s power. His only concerns in life were Dynamo Kiev (and a secret love for Manchester Utd!!!) drinking, and slugging himself back and forth from his crappy factory job (which he weirdly used to defend with an almost nationalist pride) prior to seeing this.
‘LIFE-CHANGING!! THIS IS THE VERY DEFINITION OF A FILM YOU MUST-SEE BEFORE YOU DIE’. I have never agreed with a fellow reviewer so much in my life.