Festivals, Reviews

‘The Ordinaries’ review: The Ultimate Manifestation of the “Main Character Energy”

Whenever I hear the term “main character,” the first thing that pops into my head is Dakota Johnson in How to Be Single, particularly when she hails a taxi and tells the driver to bring her “home.” I swear I still laugh whenever I remember it, but then I realized, isn’t that a familiar scenario for all of us? We all have those moments where we delude ourselves into thinking we’re protagonists in our own films. In Sophie Linnenbaum’s brilliant masterpiece The Ordinaries, this delusion is wittingly stretched into a lifestyle, and it sure as heckfire works from all angles.

Breathing life into every film term you know, The Ordinaries is literally a cinematic world, ruled by an invisible camera that never stops rolling. In this alternate reality, the citizens are “characters” who live out their scenes by acting out specific roles according to their script. However, just like the real world, there is no equality here. Linnenbaum emphasizes this by inserting a three-class society with filmic flavor, of course—Main Characters represent the elite, the Supporting Characters are the working class, and the Outtakes are the outcasts, obviously.

The film centers on Paula (Fine Sendel), a Supporting Character who goes to school so that she can graduate as Main Character like her deceased father. But this dream is challenged when Paula’s “heart reader,” a device that translates one’s emotions to a cinematic soundtrack, suddenly malfunctions. In her quest to fix it, she plunges deeper and deeper into the cinematic underworld, where she finds herself getting along with the Outtakes.

Despite being classed as a Supporting Character, Paula is the epitome of “main character energy” as she takes control of her own storyline. She steals the scene. As the film progresses, Paula proves that being a Main Character isn’t something you earn, but something you do.

With its clever and highly creative concept, The Ordinaries levels with any Pixar film in its ability to entertain. Linnenbaum created a world worth getting lost in. One of my favorite things about the film is the spectrum of Outtakes—they are made up of miscasts, black-and-white characters, glitchy-framed, wrongly subtitled, and other film flaws.

The Ordinaries, contrary to its title, is an extraordinary attempt to break conventional cinema. A wildly experimental and fun experience, the film takes on many themes and miraculously makes it all work together. Ultimately, it’s an original spectacle that celebrates filmmaking within filmmaking.

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