Exploring the Nuances of Personal Growth and Relationships: A Review of Joanna Arnow‘s ‘The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed’
by Diane PERNET
Joanna Arnow’s ‘The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed’ is a poignant exploration of personal growth, relationships, and the complexities of navigating one’s desires. As an independent filmmaker from New York, Arnow delves into the life of a 30-something woman who finds herself stuck in a low-level corporate job within the media industry. The film’s narrative revolves around her experiences at work, with her family, and in her sex life, predominantly focusing on her journey of self-discovery as a submissive.
Arnow skillfully blurs the lines between fiction and reality by casting herself as the lead character and enlisting her own parents to portray her character’s parents in the film. Although not strictly autobiographical, the story draws inspiration from Arnow’s personal experiences and those of her friends, creating an intimate and authentic atmosphere. This film serves as a sequel to her previous hybrid documentary feature, ‘I hate myself,’ released a decade ago when Arnow was 24, which also explored themes of interracial relationships and parental conflict.
One remarkable aspect of ‘The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed’ is Arnow’s growth as a filmmaker, evident in her improved control of the craft and her keen interest in understanding the motivations of the characters surrounding her protagonist. The film’s structure comprises a series of vignettes that alternate between scenes of work,
family, and sexuality, with each vignette lasting around 20 seconds. Initially, this stylized approach may seem artificial and staged, given the deliberate flat affect of the performances. However, as the film progresses, it becomes clear that this structure effectively conveys the overarching theme of progress and regression in life.
The film’s strength lies in its ability to capture the mundanity of corporate life, presenting it with a sense of revelry that feels remarkably authentic. Arnow’s depiction of work resonates, especially for those seeking representations of work dynamics on screen. It is reminiscent of the African Despot 18-minute film, providing a similar vibe that enhances the relatability of the narrative.
As the story unfolds, the film gradually reveals the vulnerability of Arnow’s character. Initially dismissive of her own kink preferences and submissive desires, she struggles to articulate her wants and needs in her relationships. However, through a newfound connection with another character, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and emotional depth. The film thoughtfully avoids painting her kink preferences as shameful, instead emphasizing that people can embrace multiple types of relationships simultaneously. This nuanced portrayal challenges societal norms and encourages viewers to reflect on their own desires and complexities.
Moreover, ‘The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed’ skillfully portrays the protagonist’s agency and growth. Through open communication and the initiation of a new submissive-dominant relationship, Arnow’s character exhibits agency and a deepening understanding of her own needs. The film demonstrates the director’s mastery in subtly capturing the complexities of agency and personal transformation.
The film’s editing style and concise scenes contribute to its impact. The blunt editing and the brevity of each scene allow for effective comedic moments and surprising intimate moments, which resonate with the viewers. Arnow’s ability to balance humor and vulnerability is commendable, as she gradually moves from a comedic and detached tone to an emotionally open space. This delicate balance adds depth and authenticity to the narrative, resonating with audiences and evoking introspection.
‘The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed’ successfully captures the essence of contemporary dating and the struggle of defining relationships in the modern world. The film addresses the challenges of labeling relationships and the desire to establish emotional connections.