In my campaign review of Yosemite I wrote:
The movie itself comes across as more of a tone poem than anything else. It looks like the kind of movie with minimal dialogue, most of which is direct and uncompromising from characters, including the kids, that’s preternaturally self-aware. The campaign doesn’t play up the triptych nature of the story almost at all, instead presenting it as if there’s one cohesive story being told, not a series of interconnected ones. Considering the more…discerning…nature of the audience being appealed to they’re more likely to go along with that – and to know about it outside of the campaign since it’s talked about in festival reviews – and not be turned off by a little sleight of hand.
The movie is, having watched it, very much in line with the triptych nature that was hinted at but also downplayed throughout the campaign.
Where the campaign played up the interconnected nature of the three stories the movie itself draws much more distinct lines between the three. Yes, they’re connected in that the three characters know each other and interact in ways both big and small, but there’s no throughline in their stories. It’s not one story being told, it’s three stories that overlap here and there but in a Venn Diagram kind of way, not where one story is essential to the other two.
There are certainly some elements of the campaign that in retrospect seem like they’re presenting false information. “Charlie’s probably dead” is presented in the trailer as if it’s about a young boy being the biggest example. And James Franco certainly as much of a presence in the movie as he’s presented to be in the marketing, making up just a small part of only one of the three stories. I don’t think there was an intent to mislead here, but some material is certainly not representative of the actual movie.
Unfortunately the movie left me rather cold. I certainly admired the attention to detail but it’s one of those movies that wants to seem intellectual and lofty by virtue of its silence, the space it gives around all the performances and the general aimlessness of the story itself. There’s only a minor resolution to it that…well, i was going to say it didn’t pay off any of the previous plot points, but those plot points were pretty sparse and minor as well, so… It’s a good movie and worth watching, but it’s not as important as it seems to think it is, with little new to say about any of the subjects it tries to take on. That’s due to the broken up nature of the three stories. There’s just not enough time to really dive into anything, so it comes off as rather superficial.