A timid officer worker becomes both pariah and Pied Piper when she unleashes her confessional, scathingly honest pop compositions upon friends and co-workers, in this hilarious comedy from Vancouver’s Kris Elgstrand (Doppelgänger Paul).
In his work as a playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker, Vancouver's Kris Elgstrand has wittily and often hilariously chronicled the foibles of bohemians. Following his collaboration with Dylan Akio Smith on 2009's Doppelgänger Paul, Elgstrand now makes his solo directorial debut with Songs She Wrote About People She Knows, which takes caustic aim at art therapy, the contemporary music scene, and the suppressed artistic yearnings of middle managers — which, it turns out, are better left suppressed.
Elgstrand's heroine is Carol (Arabella Bushnell), a timid thirtysomething who, as part of her art-therapy treatment, begins sending her friends and co-workers unsolicited recordings of her swoony pop compositions (think of a heavily medicated Zooey Deschanel), which viciously slag their behaviour and are peppered with some rather extreme turns of phrase. Some of her friends are so outraged they take out restraining orders, but Carol's boss Dave (Brad Dryborough) is so gobsmacked by her musical critique — which, he believes, calls him out for giving up on his dreams of rock stardom — that he quits his job the next day. What follows is a manic trip down and up the West Coast as Carol reinvigorates people's creative sides and bewitches numerous men — all the while completely bewildered as to why she and her songs are having such an impact on her listeners.
If her Carol is off-key, Bushnell is pitch-perfect as this inadvertent Pied Piper, and she has a perfect foil in Dryborough, whose Dave is so permanently wound up that (to paraphrase the late film critic John Harkness, writing about Dabney Coleman) even his hair seems clenched. Skilfully alternating between scenes of outright hilarity (especially the film's opening) and moments of genuine, keenly felt emotion, Elgstrand creates a cinematic world that is both comically exaggerated and thoroughly recognizable.