CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Jenna Fischer Stars in Sweet ‘The Giant Mechanical Man’
CHICAGO – Don’t let the awful title fool you — “The Giant Mechanical Man” is not sci-fi. This cute dramedy tackles well-trod ground in the world of indie film but Lee Kirk conveys enough honest affection for his well-crafted characters that the piece works. With a very strong ensemble portraying interesting, believable characters, “The Giant Mechanical Man” isn’t a breakthrough film but is an entertaining slice of life nonetheless.
“What’s the point of you? Why should anyone care about you?” These are the kind of questions that face most of us at one point or another. For some people, they get tackled early in life and, however honestly, those people know the track they want to be in through life. Not everyone figures it out at the same time, however. And why should they have to? Why do we live in a society that demands standard, typical, defined roles? “The Giant Mechanical Man” weaves these themes into a sweet romance involving two incredibly likable characters and their quest for either some more definition in their lives or the understanding that they don’t really need it.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Giant Mechanical Man” in our reviews section.|
Chris Messina has done solid work in small roles in films like “Vicky Christina Barcelona” and “Away We Go” but he proves that he can easily carry a film with his strong work here as, believe it or not, the title character. Tim is one of those unique souls that paints himself silver, stands on stilts, and waits in complete stillness on a corner for someone to drop some change in his suitcase. While his girlfriend (Lucy Punch) found it charming at the start, she’s had enough and breaks up with him at the beginning of the film (which also features a strong cameo from Bob Odenkirk as her brother). After an interview on local news, Tim packs up his metal makeup and gets a horrible job at the zoo.
Meanwhile, Janice (Jenna Fischer) sees the interview and randomly bumps into the mechanical man a few times. She seems almost inspired by his desire to do whatever he thinks is artistic and not what the world tells her to do. But not enough to change. Then she, of course, gets a job at the zoo, where she sells grape soda to kids and their obnoxious parents. She starts a very-sweet romance with Tim, never even realizing that he is the mechanical man.
The Giant Mechanical Man
Photo credit: Tribeca Films