LEMON, though beautifully framed, feels like a short that was stretched beyond it’s contents into a feature.
It falls into the category of meta-cinema that exists for the seemingly sole purpose of being what other movies aren’t. In LEMON’s case, it takes the idea of the white schlubby leading man who gets the girl in the end and, well, he doesn’t get the girl.
If done with more empathy for the main character, this could be poetic or a commentary on media or white privilege. However, the lead Isaac, played by a restrained-to-the-point-of-emotionless Brent Gellman, is portrayed with such alien roboticness that we’re never even able to consider him as an archetype of white maleness, which I believe he was meant to represent. Further distancing ourselves from the character is the hyper stylized shooting and production design. It’s no doubt beautiful and enjoyable to watch for that reason alone, however it significantly distances us from any emotional stake we might have.
It feels like we’re watching a low budget wes anderson movie mixed with a dark version of napoleon dynamite. Where these movies succeeded was treating their characters with sympathy if not empathy. In LEMON, we feel as though Isaac is the worst. That’s fine, but why are we watching if not to see him change. Watching a schlub remain a schlub can only be so entertaining.
While there’s definitely a need for more white male protagonists to get taught lessons in reality, LEMON is a bit too removed from reality to deliver that lesson.
In addition, the hyper stylized awkwardness does not count for comedy, though most of the time it feels like it’s trying to.
On the upside, there is a great cast and some delightful moments, it’s just in a package that’s more packing peanuts than insight. It feels like it’s a small movie presented in a big box.