An idyllic suburban life has never been portrayed to more queasy effect than in Marc Forster's Everything Put Together. Angie (Radha Mitchell, High Art) seems to have it all--a loving husband, a close circle of friends, a ... more »baby on the way. But when her newborn dies of SIDS, the isolated grief that quickly intervenes presents an alarming portrait of modern-day tribal outcasting as the American dream gets turned inside-out to reveal a cruel undertow. Treated as though she might taint their own families with bad luck, Angie's girlfriends abandon Angie to her grief and increasingly unstable behavior. Forster (Monster's Ball) shuttles artfully between the intimate handheld camera commotion of communal activities--neighborly barbecues, shopping excursions, rap sessions among friends--and the motionless scenes of Angie's unhinged state when alone, to create an atmosphere of suburban suffocation matched only by Todd Haynes's Safe. Everything Put Together was shot entirely on digital video, and its innovative direction and excellent cast subvert the familiarity of the home video to chilling effect. --Fionn Meade« less
"Everything Put Together is a harrowing look at what can happen in life when death shockingly intrudes where it seems not to belong. For the protagonist of this daring, deeply disturbing film it is the loss of a just-born infant that triggers the cataclysm. Having given birth successfully, Angie (who has had a joyful, medically uneventful pregnancy) soon learns from her hospital bed that her child has succumbed. She is torn in half. As the days elapse, providing some temporal distance from the event itself, Angie finds she has no way of coping with the terror her experience arouses or the longing for what was to have been. Her social network reacts to the horror of their friend's fate by distancing themselves quickly. Angie is suddenly unacceptable in her outsized grief and for having suffered an undeserved trauma that is frightening to comtemplate.Their lives are constructed upon the necessary premise that life in general proceeds at an orderly pace. Rips in the fabric of a person's sanity caused by unbearable events, especially when acknowledged by the victim in an unapologetic way, are too threatening to be tolerated. What they imply about our collective vulnerability and precarious sense of security is simply unacceptable in ordinary social discourse. Thus becoming a pariah adds to the intensely persecutory ambiance Angie gradually finds herself subsisting in. Marc Forster depicts this slide into exile and inchoate madness masterfully. But it is not until the point when Angie insists on seeing the post-autopsy corpse of her deceased infant that she begins to unravel precipitously. Up until then she has managed to hold herself together despite the onslaught of inexplicable loss and unappeasable mourning. It takes the actuality of what is impossible staring her directly in the face to break her. To his great credit, Forster has the courage and resolve to follow this unrelenting confrontation with death right down to every detail of its relentless claim. Everything Put Together captures the abyss of death absolutely brilliantly. It provides an emotional journey and catharsis for the viewer that is unforgettable."
A most unfortunate look at society today.
Catherine S. Todd | Oxford NC, USA | 08/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film moved me like no other. Having witnessed first hand friends of mine who have lost children to SIDs (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), I could appreciate the sentiments and experiences of the characters in this film.
The cruelty of "friends" and the idea that the mother AND father who lost her child were now somehow "unfit" to be near, or have their [former] social circle's children near, was heartbreaking, and only too true in our so-called "modern" society, where everything must be "just fine" in order to avoid being shunned or rejected.
What is this curse that afflicts our white middle class, especially "educated white middle class" females? Why would this young couple be further punished, after experiencing one of the worst kinds of pain, that of losing a child? Why does our society have no rituals of comforting those who are bereaved, other than a church service and an "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that..." as if talking about it and, more importantly, EXPRESSING GRIEF OUTWARDLY is taboo.
Is death and grief so unacceptable in today's world that those that have contact with it, or inadvertently experience it, must be punished further? Is no comfort to be offered, outside of "paying a therapist," "taking medication" or going to yet another group, this time a "grieving group?"
Is it still "Blame the Mother" for anything and everything that goes "wrong?" Does nature, or "the Creator," never have the right or the obligation to end a life for it's own reasons or purposes, or perhaps because something in a child did not develop right? Are we never to accept the natural events of life or of God or of anything that we "don't like" or "don't expect" or "didn't plan for this to happen?"
Who can you sue when a child dies? Whose "fault" is it? Why is it so impossible to accept death in today's society, and why do we punish the mothers who are touched by it, and grieve the most in it?
Are we all "supposed" to be living a "Martha Stewart kind of life?" Does Death have no meaning or purpose in this world?
The actors were all cast perfectly and their dialogue was so natural and "on the mark," it felt like they were in my own living room. I had wondered how far this "idyllic" pregnant mother's group would last, and to my horror and surprise, it didn't last past the birth of the first child in the group, to the most innocent of the group.
The cruelty displayed by all the couples towards the couple (both mother and father) who had lost their child was horrendous, heartbreaking and all too true, even in "this modern day and age." What will anthropologists have to say about us when they study our American culture as practiced by educated, middle class white men and women who are my own age?
The fact that this poor mother ultimately was forced to lie about being pregnant again to finally "gain acceptance" once again was truly heartbreaking, and a comment on how far "friendship" truly goes, in our "average white middle class America."
The director, Marc Forster; the writers Catherine Lloyd Burns (who also played "Judith" in the film) and Adam Forgash (writer and producer of the film), and all the actors are to be commended for their complete and accurate portrayal of our modern experience and reaction to "death" or anything that "goes wrong," for that matter.
The "witch" of the women's group (the "leader of the pack") is particularly to be commended at giving such a perfect portrayal as the ringleader, who leads the charge in ostracizing the most beautiful and innocent member, through her own jealousy and greed. She doesn't even like her own children, but is so "proud" to be "breeding" again. Is she nothing but an ever-present and ever-active brood mare? Do any of these women have an ounce of compassion in their hearts? What do they consider "friendship" to be? Did "witch trials" ever end?
Marc Forster is the same director who brought us "Monster's Ball." This is a stunningly beautiful dreamlike film that quickly turns into a psychological nightmare, based solely on natural events and the human reactions to those events. Death touches us all, and we must learn to accept and revere it in the same spirit we supposedly accept and revere birth. It's all part of the same cycle, and we all "live forever" through the turning of this wheel.
"Everything Put Together" is a must see film and one that will stay with you. Simply incredible."
It has a point all right
Fred Zappa | Urbana, IL United States | 07/31/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you think this movie has no point, you're not thinking hard enough. Monster's Ball used and abused Halle Berry to say something nice about white people--she was a heroine without a soul, another "Magic Negro" whose main purpose, finally, was to suggest something good about the white person on center stage. How dismayingly familiar. If you're a white person (like me) who liked Monster's Ball (unlike me), you should think about just why you liked it. (You probably liked Driving Miss Daisy, Ghost, The Green Mile, and countless other interracial greeting cards for similar reasons--think about it.)This movie, though, is much more honest in its efforts to out some objectionable features of white, upper middle class-ness. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against white people, nor against white yuppies, as people. But despite what such people like to think, there are certain tendencies induced by being members of those two categories (and, of course, by being members of others). This movie is out to examine some of those tendencies, and it exposes them for the anti-communal, soul-crushing dangers they are. White yuppies can certainly avoid enacting such tendencies; however, when they're more or less surrounded by other white yuppies, and the only working class people of color they encounter are those who work for them (as depicted subtly in this film), well, it's difficult not to become excessively self-interested. The central character here--a mother who is shunned by her "friends" after a tragedy they should instead help her recover from--is portrayed as a victim of such tendencies, and the movie does so in order to expose them as dangerous.This movie succeeds at this level of subtle social critique, but I'm giving it four stars because of its unfortunate reliance on cliched borrowings from too many horror movies, and for how long it spends demonstrating the effects of this tragedy on the unfortunate young mother. Still, it boldly goes where few filmmakers dare to go, challenging the shiny happy surfaces of upper-middle-class whiteness so unthinkingly projected nearly everywhere else."
Everything Put Together is watchable independent film
Catherine S. Todd | 03/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I really enjoyed this movie, once I got used to the artful cinematography. The direction and filming are beautiful and I can't say enough good about the actors. They improvised many of their scenes and had to shoot the whole film in about 15 days, often "borrowing" a location and running away because of low funds...what a great movie to have come out of such a crazy situation. The actors manage to convey the emotionalism and the psychology of their characters without going over the top or seeming cliched and cheesey. A well done film all around. Now, for some general commentary regarding other reviews I've read:
A lot of people seem to be confused about the point, but if you listen to the commentary with Mark Forster, Rhada Mitchell, and Megan Mullally they talk about what it's all about. Everything Put Together isn't exactly the horror movie its been described as, but if you let yourself get involved it gets a little scary watching Rhada's character decsend deeper and deeper into her psychoses. One of the big things I'd like to point out is that her friends aren't bad people, they're scared. They've never been in this situation before and it hits a little to close to home for each of them, what if it had been her? They just don't know how to handle it, but that means leaving the main character with no support system to go through a roller coaster ride of darkness and inner deamons turning into light in the end. I like this movie, and obviously I'm buying it so that I can watch it repeatedly."
That's not my baby
mikey mike | 01/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"-Most movies usually show how friends bond together after a tragedy and how everything magically solves itself again. This movie on the other hand completely detaches from that and shows you how we should be careful about the people we call friends. The main character Angie not only looses her baby in the movie but also looses her friends. The nice about the movie though is that they don't make the friends seem like horrible people but rather just people that don't know how to properly communicate their emotions to a grieving mother. The baptism scene is a great example of that, because they didn't invite due to the fact that they thought it would be too painful for her, but instead had the opposite effect.
-The whole movie is an emotional roller coasters that we witness Angie go through. When we first meet her, she's a happy woman that's on the verge of giving birth. She is in love with her husband that loves her back very much and she's very lively and pretty sexual. All that goes to hell once she looses her baby and for me it was fascinating to watch her go through this horrible ordeal in her own way, and see how it almost drove her to the end. She goes from happy to depressed reclusive and see how it affects the people around her. I really loved that scene when she goes to see her baby at the morgue and after seeing him denies that it's him. It was really heartbreaking to watch because she wished with all her heart that her words would turn to reality and her baby would magically come to life.
-The performances here are pretty strong with Radha Mitchell owning the movie and commanding greatness in her own beautiful subtle way whenever she's on screen. Her character Angie is one that could have easily being played in a "woe is me" manner, but Mitchell plays her as sympathetic yet scary. The scene in which she denies that the baby at the morgue is hers is probably my favorite moment with her in the movie. So heartbreaking and so well acted. She has one scene in the movie in which she lets out a scream after she finds out that her baby is gone, and that scream should make anyone that watches the movie with the volume cranked up pee themselves a little bit. I doubt that's how real people act when they find out something horrible but hey it works in the movie. Her performance isn't her strongest since I strongly believe that title belongs to "High Art", but Mitchell is wonderful nonetheless and I was really happy to hear Meagan Mullally say she was the best actress she had ever worked with.
-Fans of "Will and Grace" should be pleasantly surprised by Meagan Mullally in this movie. She plays one of the pregnant friends and much like all the friends in the movie she shuns Angie after her loss. It would be easy to hate her, but Mullally plays as a lost friend that doesn't know how to deal with the current situation. Justin Louis who has great chemistry with Mitchell plays the loving husband. He is just a regular guy that tries his best to cope with the loss as well but knows that he can't show too much emotion because he needs to be strong for the woman he loves so much. The rest of the supporting players are great especially the actor that plays the doctor.
-This is an ultra low budget movie with people behind the scenes pulling multiple duties so I guess it's not much of a shock that the movie is shot with a DV camera. The roughness and unattractiveness that the DV employs does fit the tone for a lot of the movie since it fully conveys what Angie sees of the world which, is a very disheveled and bitter place. Overall, it would have been pretty nice to see the movie shot with film. The music unlike the cinematography doesn't reflect the budget since it feels like it's scored with a 60 piece orchestra instead being scored at the home of director Marc Foster's friend Thomas Koppel. The best way to describe the music is "Blade Runner" meets "Crash" which is very high praise in my book. Low budget stuff like this usually gets stuck with source music or worse some flavor of the month musician writing some incoherent mess, but in the case of this movie the music is very nicely done and even has a very nice song at the end for us to enjoy.
-Of all the disturbing elements of the movie, the one I thought was really messed up was how the end of the movie suggested that Angie might go back to being friends with the same back stabbing friends that left her out to dry. The one thing that's not certain though is whether she was indeed pregnant like she told them that she was, or whether she was faking it to see their reaction. I really hope that it was the latter because I would hate to think that she would go back to laughing and chatting with the same people that gave her the cold shoulder when she needed them the most. On the other hand if that is the case then I guess it would make the movie a lot better, because it will show how people can be so desperate to accepted that they will be pals with the ones that screwed them over.
-It's a very difficult movie to watch and not something I'd recommend for young viewers, but if you don't mind the low budget productions and the awkwardness of most of the scenes then you should check this out."