How to Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends
To many, one of the cardinal sins of documentary making is allowing the film’s creator to become its subject. In any kind of journalistic or documentary work, the real skill comes in maintaining the barrier of objectivity between he who holds the camera and the subject that is being filmed – avoiding personal agendas or, for the true maestro, promoting an agenda with sufficient subtlety to make it seem like a simple presentation of fact. In this regard, How to Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends fails before it has even begun.
The story, in which the filmmaker charts the career trajectories of his girlfriend and his boss (both aspiring musicians), hits so close to home that he can’t help but be involved. However, given the premise, the end result is surprisingly competent and compelling. Dialogues on the theme of honesty raise the tantalising prospect that the narrator is inviting us to question his reliability. The cinematography, perfectly evoking the trappings of home video, seems honest in the extreme, but discussions on editing encourage the viewers to ponder what they’re not seeing. Certainly, there’s much more to this film than the rags-to-better-rags story it follows.
Showing an affinity for small-scale stories of everyday people, Tom Meadmore (director, writer, cinematographer and editor) is something of a far cry from his muse, Quentin Tarantino. Nevertheless, the film is still visually varied and engaging. It draws on handheld and steady camerawork in a range of interesting locations, with music video footage, animation and a chorus group of talking heads, ranging from friends and family to semi-famous professionals. The subjects of the film, Meadmore included, aren’t necessarily likeable. They make some pretty terrible decisions, but they are empathetic, and it’s charming to watch them working through their trials. It’s refreshingly concise, too. At just under an hour and a quarter, the documentary never seems bloated, never disproportionate in its emotional weight, and Meadmore skilfully creates a balance between moments of hardship and triumph.
When all is said and done, How to Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends may not be a perfect film, but for a directorial debut with a minimal budget, it is extremely watchable, and the honesty of the narrator makes it easy to care about the subject matter. Whatever its shortcomings, it is far from dry, and that gives it an advantage over many other documentaries out there today.
How to Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends is released nationwide on 4th July 2015.
Watch the trailer for How to Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends here: