REVIEW: I Am Not a Hipster

21 03 2012

Reynolda Film Festival

Destin Cretton’s film “I Am Not a Hipster,” despite what its title might insinuate, does a fantastic job of deconstructing the modern hipster culture.  In one heated scene near the climax, musician Brook (Dominic Bogart) makes a distinction between “art,” which he makes, and “fun,” which his friend and manager Clark (Alvaro Orlando) makes.  His angry rant is as much a reaction against the YouTube and Hipstamatic-happy culture that makes the world replete with kitsch and devoid of much meaning as it as against Clark’s show.

But to call society the main concern of Cretton’s film is to miss the point.  His film is quintessentially Sundance, small-scale filmmaking applied to intimate storytelling.  Cretton narrows his focus on one character, Brook, and really explores who he is, what made him, and how he responds because of and in spite of that.

The film feels like it’s treading familiar grounds when it portrays Brook’s family drama of loving sisters, a dead mother, and an estranged father.  But when it dares to look into whether anyone has the right to mope around simply because they are an artist, as the stereotype of the hipster has come to represent, it is insightful and compelling.

Cretton, who fully understands the indie scene of San Diego, portrays it honestly and candidly.  The pretension is there, the scruffy fashion is there, the prickliness is there.  Above all, the humanity is there, and that’s what  makes “I Am Not a Hipster” a movie that is both illuminating and worthwhile.  B