Film Review: I SAW THE TV GLOW (2024): Jane Schoenbrun’s Surreal and Disturbing Tale is a Remarkable Achievement in Film-making SuperNayr

Justice Smith Brigette Lundy Paine I Saw The Tv Glow

I Saw the TV Glow Review

I Saw the TV Glow (2024) Film Review, a movie written and directed by Jane Schoenbrun and starring Justice Smith, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Ian Foreman, Helena Howard, Lindsey Jordan, Danielle Deadwyler, Fred Durst, Conner O’Malley, Emma Portner, Madaline Riley, Amber Benson, Michael C. Maronna, Danny Tamberelli, Timothy Griffin Allan, Tyler Dean Flores, Elizabeth Scopel and Marlyn Bandiero.

Jane Schoenbrun’s new follow-up film to the mediocre We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is called I Saw the TV Glow and it’s a mesmerizing cinematic achievement, to say the least. Old TV shows have had a history of shaping the lives of those who watched them when they were younger. Sometimes, a person could live vicariously through the characters witnessed on-screen. Chronicling decades in the life of a young man named Owen (Justice Smith), Schoenbrun’s thought-provoking movie is tense and emotionally devastating but throughout the film’s running-time, it remains a compelling work of fierce intensity.

This picture begins with Owen (played by the superb Ian Foreman as a young man) bonding with a student named Maddy (the terrific Brigette Lundy-Paine) who suffers from some rather intense difficulties in her life. Maddy is not a potential match for Owen because of her personal preferences, but the two become fascinated with a unique television show called, “The Pink Opaque.” In the show within the film, there are some similarities to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” among other programs that have aired over the years. In the TV show, evil is fought in an otherworldly fashion. Maddy records some shows of the program for Owen to enjoy at his leisure and enjoy it immensely, he does.

Owen’s mom, Brenda (the fabulous Danielle Deadwyler) falls ill. However, Owen has discovered an escape in the show that has helped shape his life into something more interesting than it is in reality. Owen’s stepdad (Fred Durst) becomes a crutch for Owen, however, as the film progresses because of Frank’s own dire character flaws. Maddy is suffering, herself, from some sort of depression and possesses feelings of inadequacy. When she, one day, vanishes from Owen’s world, his life is not quite the same. Though Owen had the opportunity to join Maddy on her journey, he decided to remain present in the current lifestyle he has been accustomed to.

“The Pink Opaque” is soon taken off the air and along with that revelation comes a series of confusing events for both Owen and the audience. Maddy pops up some time later and tells Owen of the possibility that there is an alternate world congruent to that found on the television show. Maddy tries to win Owen’s trust but he seems more concerned with the mundane reality he lives in versus that which is presented by the possibility of a real-life version of the fascinating characters and world which was created on the old TV show he once adored.

Owen ends up working at a movie theater which helps contrast his dead-end life to the world which is created in the films showing there while he wastes away in a position which doesn’t challenge him. The escape and comfort that Owen found in watching “The Pink Opaque” turns into despair as a re-visit to the show reveals that the program may not have been as great as it was once interpreted to be.

I Saw the TV Glow is a work of art that grabs the viewer and asks questions about existentialism that one may not want to think about. Justice Smith and Ian Foreman create a believable character full of depth and complexity. In “The Pink Opaque” is a story of two inter-connected girls who may fight evil in the program but the small details of the show’s characterizations parallel Owen and Maddy’s own realities where things aren’t as frightening on the surface but are, nevertheless, scary enough on their own terms.

If one thinks the ending of I Saw the TV Glow is anti-climatic, then the viewer hasn’t been paying attention to the elements which are interwoven throughout the picture. With a pulsating soundtrack that is riveting to listen to for the viewer, this film is masterfully pieced together. Interpretations may vary but one thing that is a constant throughout is the superb work of both Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine who are like a finely tuned set of violins playing off each other with melancholy intensity. The characters they play dance a dance of being pivotal to each other’s daily activities one day and completely absent from one another at other intervals. Smith’s character doesn’t give in to the possibilities that Lundy-Paine’s suggests because he may have a bit of sanity left but there’s also a fair amount of fear buried underneath the character of Owen’s conscience. Some of that fear is real and some is imagined by the character.

As the show within the film, “The Pink Opaque” begins to feel a bit stale, so does Owen’s life for all its despair and hopelessness. The whole concept of trying to find one’s self by relating to fictional characters feels thoughtful and unique. Although the movie is more abstract than it should have been, it marks a significant improvement for Schoenbrun over We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. This is a director who may make something Oscar-worthy in the not-too-distant future and this film has potential for its script to get a nod itself.

I Saw the TV Glow is a work of terrific depth. If you think it’s too artistically stylistic or that the movie is too disturbing for its own good, one must take into consideration the powerful themes it presents. By the time the film ends, it becomes a heart-wrenching descent into the depths of what shapes our lives and how those things which shape our lives fade over time. When life itself fades through aging, it is too late to do anything to change the channel so make the TV show that surrounds your life a good one while it lasts, if you can.

Rating: 8.5/10

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