Director Dustin Guy Defa screened his film, “Person to Person,” a feature-length based on his short film of the same name. The film follows five characters throughout the course of a day, exploring questions of occupation, relationships and death, starring Abbi Jacobson, Michael Cera and Tavi Gevinson.
“Person to Person” is shot on 16mm film, giving it an aged, ‘80s aesthetic that plays into the film’s “slice of life” themes. Some of the plotlines offer entertaining and relatable situations. Jacobson and Cera’s story is especially relevant to me because they both work at a news publication, interviewing various characters in order to cover a potential murder that took place. While I can’t necessarily relate to the particular assignment they were working on, I continue to learn the ins and outs of reporting and coverage myself, so it’s always fun to see that portrayed on screen.
Another notable plotline is that of Gevinson’s character as she navigates high school, relationships and her own sexuality. Defa captures these emotions and experiences very effectively, all the more strengthened by Gevinson’s performance. As intriguing as this arc was, though, the other actors weren’t as good or as believable. Several plot points are also abandoned almost as quickly as they are introduced, leaving me without a sense of closure or understanding on where the characters were left at the end of it.
In fact, these problems plague the rest of the plotlines as well. With the exception of Gevinson, Jacobson and Cera, the acting talent was incredibly limited, taking me out of the film. None of the stories really amount to anything or end in a satisfying, sensical conclusion. I know, in reality, everyday life doesn’t always end in ways that make sense, and perhaps this was Defa’s intention, but to me the purpose of filmmaking is to tell a good story, and I don’t think Defa conveyed his stories well enough.
Defa’s film style is nostalgic and intriguing but, as a whole, “Person to Person” never lived up to that intrigue. Defa certainly has potential as a director, but his feature-length film leaves much to be desired.