I love a good, quirky film. You know, one of those low-budget indie movies that nobody's heard of. The one with unpredictable plots and off-center characters.
But sometimes, a movie can be too quirky. Like, bizarre. Or completely unnatural. And when that happens, it takes me out of the film. Makes me think, "The writer is trying to be quirky here, and it really didn't work." (I realize this is completely subjective -- some people DO love anything and everything quirky/bizarre, no matter what. But I guess, for me, sometimes quirky can be too quirky).
Last night, I watched a road-trip film about two lost souls, two quirky characters (a guy and a girl) becoming friends and falling in love. And I liked it. Most of it. But there were a couple of scenes/moments that just made me roll my eyes. Parts that were too quirky. Parts where I could see the writer trying too hard to be quirky. For example, when the characters made a quick stop at the guy's parents' house, his 50-year-old mother was wearing.....her wedding dress. For no apparent reason. Just standing there in the kitchen, making eggs, wearing her wedding dress like this was a completely normal activity. No explanation at all. And the son didn't seem surprised or disturbed, which told me that this happened more than once. Quirky? Yes. But did it make any sense? Nope.
Here's an example of when quirky works. House of D is a brilliant, quiet, coming-of-age film, written and directed by David Duchovny. In it, David's character starts out by sketching (he's an artist) under a bed. Like, his 6-foot-something frame is squeezed underneath a bed, with a tiny lamp, as he scribbles in a sketchpad. Quirky? Yes. But did it make any sense? YES. It made perfect sense at the end of the movie. There was a reason he liked to crawl underneath beds, and it had everything to do with how he grew up, with how he tried to be protective of his drug-using mother. And even when we find out why he crawls under beds, that doesn't make it any less quirky. It just makes it authentic.
So, for me, I guess I have to have my quirky with a wee dose of reality. Or at least the quirk has to be semi-explained or make at least a grain of sense. If a character does something totally quirky for no reason at all, it feels to me like he's being quirky just to be quirky. It lacks authenticity. And, it shows me that the writer was trying too hard.