Movie Review: ‘Guidance’

Review by Cypress Bai

From the very beginning of the movie “Guidance”, when David Gold, the failed child actor, is diagnosed with skin cancer and not very much left in his life while he keeps listening to his recorded hopeful affirmation, it’s more than obvious that this is a troubled man who refuses to face the reality and insists to live under false pretense.

For a character with a story like this, usually there are two routes for a movie to go: one is a serious and emotional drama route, and the other one is a sarcastic and funny comedy route. I am so glad that “Guidance” went for the comedy direction and told the story in such a seemingly light and laughable yet essentially heavy and painful fashion.

“I have power. I am a success. I have met all my expectations.” With David’s false affirmation playing on a continuous loop, what we, the audience, are actually witnessing is what a mess his real life is. He’s behind his rent. He’s alienated from his family. He has no career. He has cancer. And now, he’s stealing somebody else’s identity to get a high school counselor’s job. The strong contrast between what we hear and what we see creates a strong comedic effect. Plus the light-mood music throughout, we are immediately invited into this unrealistic world this movie presents and also the world where David the character forces himself to live in by his constant self-medication with alcohol and drugs. Speaking from this point, “Guidance” successfully suspends our disbelief and provides us with a 90-minute journey that’s completely non-realistic but full of laughs and entertainment.

However, if we look into the plot and the story more closely, we can easily realize the development is neither logical nor natural. His new career choice of becoming a high school counselor comes from nowhere; his sudden caring for those troubled teenager in the school seems very odd; and his sexual preference and self gender identity remain confusing the entire way through. Even though, towards the end of the movie, the definition the newscast gives David could be counted as a try to explain for some of the unreasonable actions happened. But, it is more like an excuse rather than a convincing explanation. Yes, from David’s strange behaviors, we all know that he’s “psychologically disturbed” and “pathologically immature”, but that doesn’t mean the story of the movie should be as ridiculous as the fictional character. The questions these logical fallacies of the story raised cannot simply be answered by dumping a couple of words to the audience.

Therefore, I feel for the character at times while watching the movie, nevertheless, the almost entirely patched-up messy plotline keeps throwing me out of the story.

What’s more, there’s quite an amount of valuable messages the movie attempts to make, such as the world needs more rebels and always be true to yourself, yet fails to deliver. Because no matter how true and how strong those statements are, they would never be anywhere near convincing and satisfying to the audience unless they’re testified by the story and really learned by the characters in the story.

In conclusion, it is a fun movie to watch in that it depicts a painfully hilarious character, but at the same time, it is a movie that still needs some more work on the story to become a good movie.

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