The crescendo of associative editing that leads to the film’s emotional cadence (made all the more devastating due to the actor’s subsequent death in real life) uses this painting as a final round-up of its themes. Thomas Chatterton was an 18th century poet who struggled to gain recognition in his time and took his own life with an arsenic overdose at the tender age of 17. He was canonised as a martyr to his art, who exemplified the melancholy temperament of youth. Rob’s death, when drawn in comparison to Chatterton’s, and when juxtaposed with so much religious iconography and inhospitable realms, becomes a glorification of release; the crushing weight of the world dissipates into a pure, brilliant void of whiteness, weightless and calm.

Whilst a reading of Better Things certainly benefits from knowledge of the numerous works that it quotes, an analysis relating to specific works should not be a requirement. Variety‘s failure to recognise the film’s artistry, and engage with it on any other level than the pedestrian, articulates the manner in which feature-length films are treated by many publications today. A lack of patience and a reluctance to read further than that which is explicitly decreed will render anything but the most banal cultural products, through cynicism, indolence and a lack of emotional awareness, null and void.

Source | A Girl and a Gun