Funny, thought-provoking, and totally original
The World Premiere of "IBID" at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival took me
back to the early days of my discovering what independent films are all
"IBID" features a frighteningly brilliant ensemble cast, led by the
delightfully insane performance of Christian Campbell (Lionel) as a
psychiatric patient who has written a play to be acted out by the other
patients in the institution. The script calls for them to search for
The Book in which they will write the New Commandments (ten wasn't
enough). And that's where the fun (and puzzlement) begins. This is a
classic road movie with a twist -- we don't know where the acting ends
and the reality begins, and neither do some of the characters in the
film, as we discover.
Evocative of Kerouac and late 60s psychedelia, as well as more recent
festival films like "The Go-Getter" and "Wristcutters," "IBID" is full
of the stuff of which great indies are made. First, it has the look and
feel of cutting edge film-making, from the haunting soundtrack to the
judicious use of hand-held camera, subjective point of view shots, and
creative lighting and color processing which bring out not just the
nature of the frenetic action but also put the viewer into the minds of
the characters themselves. Second, not only does "IBID" make you think,
it also challenges as few films can do. Having Lionel write a play
which is then acted out within the movie itself is a wonderful device
which keeps the audience constantly on its toes.
It should be said that the script never trivializes mental illness or
patronizes those who may suffer from it. That's a trap which so many
filmmakers fall into and audiences often may not know the difference.
The fact that director Russell Friedenberg (who also co-stars as
Lionel's buddy Tin) has not done so is a tribute to his own caring and
sensitivity about the issue. But make no mistake about it -- "IBID" is
laugh-out-loud hilarious and never takes itself too seriously.
Most of all, "IBID" allows the viewer to decide what is real and what
is not. The real question posed here is a classic one: who is "normal"
and who is "crazy?" Friedenberg has done something few filmmakers can
-- create a totally unique and original work. It must be seen to be