Few of the images in the opening montage of inner character visual turmoil play any kind of hand in the narrative of The God Inside My Ear. At one moment, there’s a boxer. At another, there’s a child in a field. Then a cloaked figure. Then some other shapes and objects. Quickly cut and intercut together with the presumption of a payoff that never comes. Something can be said for substance-less style still being effective, but what of a wandering mind, losing track and foundation of the story it’s trying to tell? Can it still be worthwhile to watch and listen to?
Well, yes. It can.
Local Louisiana filmmaker Joe Badon’s tale of a woman off the edge of a cliff mentally, between worlds and dimensions figuratively and literally, is muddled at best and in disarray at worst. The God Inside My Ear is the story of a young woman who has just suffered an unexpected breakup from a boyfriend gone loopy and distant from her. After, she spirals in, out and in between reality/realities, worrying her friends and neighbors. She takes drugs, visits doctors, undergoes therapy and even gets hypnotized, but to no avail: She is broken. This is really the only constant thing to hold on to in the film, her state of distress and peculiar behavior to everything experienced. Animals and objects speak to her, seemingly from the same voice/entity, only for her to act aggressively annoyed and sarcastic – not unlike Aubrey Plaza from Parks & Recreation or Daria. She treats these visions with combinations of apathy, fear, anxiety, sadness and fright. At any moment. In no discernable order.
It’s in the movie’s final moments of awful/awfully convenient exposition that some of the mystery of what is happening is revealed, but at this discovery, we’ve collectively thrown our hands up and surrendered. The story doesn’t so much have a through line as it does a curvy twizzler stick, bendable in a few different positions in and out of itself. It’s frustrating to me that those in the audience will probably compare this to recent works of David Lynch. There are similarities, but they are tenuous and superficial, I’m afraid.
And why compare when one can/should just let the movie as it stands wash over you? When dealing in the awkwardness of everyday interactions and reactions to odd behaviors of others, Badon excels. There’s a wonderful dryness and natural unfolding of how people communicate given various degrees of trauma they’re undergoing, leading to some sequences of sincerely funny, thoughtful and dramatic staging. These occur more often than not but are quick enough to miss if one isn’t paying close enough attention. You might also miss some great camera trickery, like the use of focus and changes in lenses for particular moods and feelings. I may not like the editorial experimentation, but Badon knows how to visually expand on atmosphere and performance.
If The God Inside My Ear has a true saving grace, it exists with its lead performer Linnea Gregg. The wringer she’s put through, having to express a wide range of emotion for different levels of understanding, interchangeable planes of being and other Faux Lynchian efforts in worlds within worlds is astounding. She balances being heartbroken with losing grasp on what’s real with the peaceful ease of someone who’s been through exposure therapy and other psychiatric appointments. While I struggled with contrivances and plot holes, she grounded me with her ability to project states of graceful detachment and removed stillness, telling me what I needed to know about what was happening from a vicarious standpoint.
Resolution without questions? It doesn’t have. Pretentious? Maybe at times. Worthwhile? Yes. And I’ll be available for the next joint, absolutely.
RATING: 2.5 / 5
The God Inside My Ear plays this Thursday evening at The Prytania as part of the 8th Annual New Orleans Horror Film Festival.