The Giant Mechanical Man
A Movie about Postmodernism, Struggle & the Power of being Genuine
I usually experience the abrasive reality of postmodern life during the Subway’s rush hour.
You see, at my previous employment, the commute from my house to the Upper East Side was utter agony. I’m the official “Priestess of the Non-Morning People Population,” (that’s a mouthful, I know) but I would attempt to unglue my body from the bed anyways.
When I boarded the overcrowded train, my lethargic brain had difficult time processing information. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t mumble Tehillim. All I could do was slink my body against the train’s door and examine my fellow commuters. Who are these people? As a writer, I yearn to know another’s story. Why is he dressed like that? What country is she from? How did that couple meet? What is he reading on his iPad? I will never know their story. They will also never know mine.
On 14th Street, I switched trains. Yet prior to switching trains, I had to walk through a tunnel. In this tunnel, an avalanche of humans would overwhelm me. Immaculate Wall-Streeters, scruffy hipsters, bleary-eyed college students, the ancient, the babes, the beautiful, the ugly…
We throb with a harried heat; rushing and pushing against each other. Wait…Where are we rushing to again? To the jobs that we despise? To the salary that’s laughably low? Or ridiculously high?
It was during these moments that I felt paper thin and miniscule. Men and women scurry and glance through each other. Didn’t you know? Us humans aren’t worthy of kindly eye contact. iPhones are. Kindles are. Macs are. Oh and if we have a spare minute, we’ll cast one to our friend too.
This notion prompts me to write a review about a film that brings an element of warmth to our otherwise oppressive modern existence. I discovered the better of two worlds (escapism and intellectual nourishment) in the Indie flick “The Giant Mechanical Man.” This Tribeca Film came out in April 2012 and was added to Netflix “Instant Play” quite recently.
The movie includes two central characters Janice (played by Jenna Fischer) and Tim (played by Chris Messina), who attempt to overcome alienation and solitude in a postmodern world. They’re in their 30s and can barely hold on to a meaningless job. They struggle to feel a sense of belonging and understanding. Janice has a sister who constantly belittles her (albeit with good intentions) and tries to set her up with Doug Duncan, a successful yet terribly cheesy author. His book is called “How to Have Winning Conversations” and he’s the type of person who always chants “Think Positive! Think Positive!” Tim experiences his own misery when his girlfriend leaves him because he lacks ambition.
Predictably—this is a movie after all—Janice and Tim discover each other. The reason their relationship is successful is because they allow themselves to be raw and vulnerable. In a society, where individuals are susceptible to being cold, competitive, and masquerading a sense of happiness, Janice and Tim are self-aware and genuine. They are able to access their emotions—even if their emotions include despair.
In addition, the dialogue in this film is natural. This is due in part to the script and in part to the acting skills of Jenna Fischer (a character from “The Office”—Holler Pam Beasly!) and Chris Messina. Part of natural dialogue is stilted awkwardness and characters’ insecurity, yet that is what makes it relatable. As we know, conversations on Planet Earth are a medley of uncertain pauses, lingering sentences, and comebacks that come too late. “The Giant Mechanical Man” is truly able to reflect this trait.
However, more than the natural dialogue, excellent casting, humor, and heart-warming romance, I applaud this film for embracing the inherent plights of postmodernism. “The Giant Mechanical Man” not only validates the alienation that is inherent in 21st century living, but also allows us to believe that we can genuinely find ourselves and others. Maybe even on the NY Subway.
Below is a trailer of "The Giant Mechanical Man." It does NOT do the movie justice at all. Keep that in mind!)