Mercedes Grower’s Brakes explores the end of relationships and how much they change from people coming together.
There are no shortage of films exploring human relationships right from how they begin to how they end so it’s an area that has been well travelled but it certainly seems that Mercedes Grower’s aim here is to show how even the most endearing connections can fall apart
The film is in two parts with the second part coming first. Part 2 chronicles the end of a series of relationships and part 1 shows how they begin. Flipping the narrative in this way accomplishes some really interesting things from an audience perspective. We’re so used to seeing how things begin and becoming invested in them that way. It means more when a relationship ends using that method because we know the characters and we are invested in them. Grower asks us to make that leap without having prior knowledge of the characters and. It both works and doesn’t work.
Some of the actors have such strong chemistry together that it’s easy to see how they might have come together in the first place. When the performances do the heavy lifting in this way it makes their interactions at the end more interesting. Other actors don’t work quite so well together so it’s difficult to feel connected to the end of this relationship.
There’s a good variation in how the relationships end between the various couples. Some are quite sedate with it being clear that what they had no longer exists and it makes sense to part ways while others are really passionate and uncomfortable to watch. Naturally those are a little more entertaining and they show the ugliest side of these people as they say and do things that they will later come to regret.
Emotions are at the heart of this film and that definitely comes across strongly. Love and falling out of love are important themes here with the second half of the film having something of a tragic edge to it since we know how it all ends up. Some of these “meet cute” experiences are really endearing to watch so it makes it all the worse when we know how it ends. Of course we don’t see what happened inbetween but with a little imagination the situation can be guessed.
What lets this down the most is the quality of the actual visuals. Most of it looks like it was recorded on very cheap equipment such as old cameras and old phones. Given the access we have to mobile phones that can record HD content it wasn’t necessary for the film to look like it does. I can understand the intention to capture a raw quality but this could have been achieved some other way. I found it off-putting and at times the dialogue was hard to follow because it wasn’t picked up very well.
A solid enough experiment that has a lot to say about how relationships come to an end. Showing the couples break up before showing how they came together is an interesting idea that lets us see how people and feelings change over time. Some of the couples have a hard time selling their scenes together and the quality of the visuals is distractingly poor but there’s a lot to like here.