Review: Nobody loves you and you don’t deserve to exist
The first micro-budget feature from the Manchester-based writer-director Brett Gregory looks at a man’s life at three different points in his life, linking his early experience with psychological depression in middle age.
Right now, pop culture has gone down one of two paths since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ignore it completely or try to work it into the story. This movie does the latter, though Nobody loves you and you don’t deserve to exist had been in the works for several years – so if that particular C-word puts you off, then it’s not a pandemic controversy.
Defining what it is, well, is a bit more complicated. It’s social hyperrealism, an experimental drama exploring the intersection of class, masculinity, mental health, isolation, addiction and existentialism.
The narrative is framed by a female narrator telling Jack’s story, and it’s intercut with flashbacks and talking heads of people in Jack’s life. Stylistic changes and the docu-drama treatment don’t always work, and while the supporting actors are good, there were times when I just wanted to hear the man himself. There is an outstanding performance by a 13-year-old Ruben Clarke as young Jack, whose on-camera campaign monologue could be a short in itself.
The middle monologue showing Jack in 1992 was a bit theatrical and too long. Performed by a nervous James Quarterit’s like an episode e – soaked in Talking Heads – from the 90s Jack is angry and disillusioned with university life, he also talks about racist and sexist comments.
The older version of Jack is played by David Howelwhich delivers an intense physical and emotional performance, managing to be both vulnerable and unstable as a grieving former teacher with mental health issues.
Visually there are elements of Ben Wheatley or a northern Shane Meadows (Gregory grew up in the Midlands, but this is very much a Manchester film). Sometimes it looks like a modern version of John Bunyan The pilgrim’s journeythe story is filled with Christian iconography and biblical passages.
But it is not only the specter of a crisis of faith that links this film to the 17th allegory. Like Bunyan’s Christian, Jack’s path is filled with obstacles and treacherous places that throw him off course. The filmmaker himself mentions a former writer of morality tales, Chaucer, on the film’s website.
It is filled with powerful images and symbols, the strongest of which are the repeated imprints of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, which are cleverly woven into scenes throughout. There are other repeated motifs and striking visuals of the city and surrounding countryside that touch on paganism as well as comic strips and cityscapes. But the impact of the title is felt more acutely when different versions of Jack recall times of childhood cruelty at school and at home. And it bears repeating, anger doesn’t usually come out of nowhere.
The film doesn’t pull any punches in its themes or politics, but there’s humor in the film too – the odd ramblings of Jack’s posh and estranged grandmother provide a moment of levity during a darkness of the night. soul as it counts with grief and unemployment. Nobody loves you and you don’t deserve to exist is an experimental and modern Mancunian fable.
Learn more about the film at https://www.seriousfeather.com/nobody-loves-you