Review: I’m Not Here Gives Us the Beauty of Possibilities and Brilliant Performances
3.5 out of 5 stars for all the tears.
**Spoilers for I’m Not Here, out in theaters and on digital download on March 8th.**
The exploration of possibilities is something that we all long for, and I’m Not Here gives us a unique look at what hope for redemption can be like. From director Michelle Schumacher, the film gives us a feeling of hope in a character that we might not necessarily connect to. Steven, who comes from a family where he had to watch his father drown himself in alcohol, seems to repeat the same mistakes within his own marriage.
Following Steven through three distinct parts of his life, the movie shows Stevie (Iain Armitage), Steve (Sebastian Stan), and Steven (J.K Simmons) exploring their own narratives while the audience sees it all through Steven’s eyes.
Stevie is just a small boy when his parents get divorced due to his father’s drinking. Stevie is subjected to getting his father (Max Greenfield) drinks and even tastes it to see what has him so enraptured. Triggered by this past with his father, Steve (Sebastian Stan) is plagued with the memory of what happened and his own demons.
Steve meets Karen (Maika Monroe), who seems to give him an endless amount of chances to stop his drinking, to the point that when we discover that she cheated on him, we understand her motives as an audience—not because it’s excusable, but rather because of the stress that Steve puts her through. Steve and Karen have a son, Trevor (played by Jeremy Maguire), and it seems that Steve truly tries to work harder for his son.
Eventually, though, he returns to drinking and even has the same moment with his own son, who tries his drink and spits it out, putting Steve’s drinking problem into perspective (even if he’d lost his job numerous times at this point). And here is when the film gets extremely heartbreaking.
Throughout the movie, we see Steven (J.K Simmons) living alone in his apartment. His mother (Mandy Moore) calls him to let him know that Karen (who is his ex-wife at this point) has died and hadn’t ever remarried. In his drunken stupor, he begins to mentally relive their life together, going back to images and important aspects of his life—which means that he rights his wrongs and tries to justify the things that he has been through.
It’s heartbreaking because we, as the audience, can see exactly what happened to Steve, Karen, Trevor, and the rest of Steven’s family, but Steven is an unreliable narrator, taking us on the journey through his eyes. In the end, we’re met with the decision to figure out what was Steven’s truth and what truly happened to him after he discovered Karen’s death.
It’s a beautiful movie that reminds us of the importance of life, those around us, and what the hope for change can do for someone. J.K Simmons brings an incredibly moving performance (while never speaking a word), and Sebastian Stan brings Steve to life in a way that makes you want to root for him despite knowing he’s still drinking in the future. From a wonderful female director and showcasing the power and dedication that women have, I’m Not Here is a heart-wrenching and beautiful film.
(image: Gravitas Ventures)
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