Trying to remember I Send You This Place is like trying to recount a fuzzy dream you had a couple of days ago. You can recollect bits of ideas and images, but assembling a resonating big picture is near impossible.
That about sums up my feelings about Andrea Sisson and Pete Ohs’ abstract documentary. It’s a personal piece about Andrea’s intimate relationship with Iceland and her feelings of frustration towards the withdrawal the world has on her schizophrenic brother, Jacob – and vice versa.
Andrea finds parallels in her trip to this foreign land between herself (who admittedly lives an ADD lifestyle) and Jacob. The documentary serves as a life altering tool for herself, but she wishes to give audiences a look at life through her anxious eyes.
The doc is shot nicely, although the natural Icelandic scenery does most of the heavy lifting. More notably, the objection to create a piece of work emulating Sisson’s hyperactivity is swiftly met. However, it’s this goal the filmmakers reach that ultimately brings the documentary to its knees just as quickly.
I’m thankful Sisson and Ohs were able to make the loose narrative in a way they were happy with. But with a project like this, there needed to be a third party creative consultant or a producer with a mind for business on board in order to keep the values of watchability in check.
I Send You This Place could’ve been a more aggressive assault on the senses. It’s not, and for that I’m also appreciative. It has some unique effects and camera movements to keep the style interesting – even though the latter’s movements tend to get pretty shaky.
But, its frazzled assembly is disconnected enough to make viewers scratch their heads frequently and scramble for content to latch onto. When Andrea and Pete are having conversations over narration, they want to involve the viewers. Under these circumstances though, the film flies into the opposite direction and movie goers can’t help but feel like the third wheel.
There is an overall essence that suggests the film thinks it can get away with some bold choices because it’s considered “art”. All films when supported correctly can be considered “art”, but the filmmaker – or in this case, filmmakers – shouldn’t forget that an audience is paying to see and hear their visions. You have to let us in if you intend to do so. Treating movie goers as onlookers is acceptable too, but Sisson and Ohs wish to make their documentary an accessible, immersive experience – cancelling out this idea.
I commend Andrea Sisson and Pete Ohs for using the medium as an emotional conveyance to touch upon personal matters without making the documentary seem too intrusive. That’s a tough balancing act and for succeeding in that area, I can’t call I Send You This Place a flat-out failure. It is however – and unfortunately – a waffling handful that I imagine is going to test some audiences’ patience.