I recorded this from IFC, not knowing what it was. From the brief description I thought it was a documentary, and still was buying into it for a couple of minutes, though I was growing a little skeptical. The jig was up at about five minutes in, when I recognized Jack Kehler, a character actor who I knew as the Dude's landlord from The Big Lebowski. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the film. I appreciate that they're trying to blur the line between fact and fiction. It's made in a way that might be convincing enough to work for those that haven't seen 10,000 movies; and don't remember almost every actors face.
The film opens with Michael Connor addressing the camera, asking the viewer to help him find his ex-girlfriend Grace. The acting and home video look is convincingly low-budget enough to make you believe that his plea is real. He begins by introducing himself and his cohorts behind the camera; a cutesy way to get you to buy into their amateur status. He shows us around his life; his job at a shoe store and his usual hangout, a coffee shop, where the aforementioned Jack Kehler hangs out as well.
It's obviously not enough to hang a feature film on, so that's where they come up with the fun idea of having an actress friend of his to play Grace and act out the important moments of their relationship. Nadia Dajani, who I also recognized immediately for being in a variety of things, plays Nadia, who plays Grace. As actors, Michael and Nadia have a good chemistry together, with a lot of playful bickering; she bitches about his lousy script-writing, laughing and then commiserating about the stupid things he did during his time together with the real Grace. And it's through their replaying of the relationship, that he realizes the reasons that Grace may have left. I don't want to give too much away, it's a fun film to discover on your own; they come up with some creative ways to play with the reality of films.
It's extremely hard to make films on no budget, so any way that filmmaker's can explore new ideas, is endearing in my world. Writer/director Michael A. Nickles came up with brilliant idea to sell the cheap photography, real-life locations and guerrilla film-making tactics and make it work for the film, not against it; while also making a funny and entertaining movie. It is nowhere near as slick as most romantic-comedies, but what it lacks in production values, it more than makes up for with originality. This Is Not A Film is for those of us looking for something different.