Sundance 2012: 'I Am Not a Hipster' is a Fantastic Indie Music Indie
by Alex Billington
January 21, 2012
When it comes to a film titled I Am Not a Hipster, it's hard to know what to expect. Is it about hipsters or not? Will it even be any good? In fact, it's about an incredible indie musician from San Diego named Brook and his family, and it's fantastic. While comparisons to former Sundance delight Once can certainly be made, this film is a unique, sometimes even quirky, low-budget indie made by director Destin Cretton's real friends and family (his sister was the costume designer). Not only was the music performed excellent, but it's actually beautiful story about a struggling family, filled with fascinating and often amusing characters.
Actor/musician Dominic Bogart plays "faux-hipster" Brook, a talented indie musician in San Diego who moved there two years ago and "exploded" on the indie music scene with his debut album. Throughout the course of the film, we learn that he has three sisters, named Joy, Spring and Merrily, and that their mother died a few years back and he doesn't a good relationship with his father. But it's the emotion he's feeling, the loneliness and depression he's gone through, that seems to drive his desire to create incredible music. It's a catharsis for him and just like listening to the songs themselves, we learn without them ever explaining that this seems to be the case, that his music has a drive behind that sometimes even he doesn't understand.
I love when the journey of the film and the story in it makes the overall experience so wonderful. This is not a hipster film and it's not even really about hipsters (though Brook certainly has a few hipster friends) but it still has a wonderfully subtle heart to it, not only in the characters themselves, but in the filmmaking. This premiered in the NEXT category at Sundance, which is the very, very low budget category, and director first-time director Destin Daniel Cretton made this entirely with the support of his family and friends. And it shows, in every element of the film, the passion within his characters and the story and the production.
As always, sometimes you go into films not knowing what to expect, and are treated with something entirely different but even more impressive. That's the case with Destin Cretton's I Am Not a Hipster, a film that, even if you hate hipsters and don't follow the San Diego indie music scene, you may fall in love with just like me. It's filled with sweet emotion that drives the great music in it. Seek this out when you can, especially if you loved Once, it has as much charm and wonder and emotion as that film, but set in San Diego with its own unforgettable characters. One of my favorites of the festival already, and will likely last beyond as well.
Alex's Sundance Rating: 9 out of 10