Originally I was attracted to this movie for a few reasons. The first was the incredible choice of a title. As everyone knows, any movie that makes you say a whole sentence to refer to it is always the best (e.g. "He's Just Not That Into You" and "It's Kind of a Funny Story"). Additionally, the movie description builds it up as one of the typically first-rate teen coming of age dramas we've come to know and love (e.g. "The Art of Getting By" and "It's Kind of a Funny Story," albeit this lacks the Emma Roberts presence that was so brilliant in the latter and the only redeeming grace in the former). But really, the reason I decided to watch this film was seeing Aubrey Plaza credited. For me, that's enough to watch just about anything.
The first few minutes of the movie made me wonder if the title was some kind of meta-humor and that "this pain" actually referred to the pain that you, the viewer, would endure. The exposition of this film fails to accomplish little but making you hate the main character. Toby Regbo's character is contrived and shallow while the dialogue and narration try to force him to be a "deep" or "existential" teenager. Instead he comes off as moody and fake.
It gets better, though. As the movie develops you soon realize that there is no real plot involved. Instead, there are just random tangentially related events that don't really build upon each other. This, as we all know, makes for some excellent cinema. Luckily, conflict is able to be completely forced out of nowhere. Without any build up at all, the middle of the movie erupts into a fireworks display of emotion and F-Bombs for no real apparent reason. We are unable to really connect with the characters and the pain they must be feeling because there seems to be no real cause for as much suffering they pretend to be going through.
I would be remiss if I failed to comment on the film's cinematography. Setting aside the actual quality of the set or lighting (which the cinematographer seems to have done) this movie has some weird camera decisions. Watch it and you will be as confused as I was, wondering how someone chose the camera angles and transitions they did.
Most of the acting in this movie is terrible. I will not delve into exposing each poor performance; instead, I would like to discuss the acting performances that weren't so terrible.
Let's start with Toby Regbo's performance. I was a bit confused on this one because his acting seems to be a roller coaster-one scene it's pretty good and the next it's terrible. I realized this comes down to the terrible dialogue he was given and cannot be attributed to his acting skill. I actually enjoyed his performance at times as it tended to remind of a stressed-out Adam Scott in "Parks and Recreation."
Lucy Liu also suffers because of the script. Her character is absolutely ridiculous. She plays a psychoanalyst that is apparently terrible at her job. Instead of actually trying to help the main character with his mood disorders she merely gives him smoothies and goes on jogs with him while giving him terrible advice. At the end she even tells him, a suicidal, depressed teenager with high social-anxiety, that he's completely normal and doesn't need to worry about anything. Umm... excuse me? Did she not hear him tell her he was suicidal?!
Peter Gallagher's performance might have been my favorite. The character, I assume, was brought in for comic relief. He did make me laugh but not in the way the director likely intended. His performance is so strange and out of place that the awkwardness of it all brought a smile to my face. I am not one to shy away from cringe-worthy acting so I'll probably be one of a few that loved Peter Gallagher in this movie.
Last, but not least, we have the reason I even watched the movie in the first place-Aubrey Plaza. Her character feels completely alien in the strange world of this movie but she plays well to the ridiculous role she was given. Her performance was fantastic and did not disappoint.
The movie concludes much as it started-terribly. Since there was no real conflict there's no real point for a dénouement, I guess. Fittingly, the movie just feels like it ends without the characters really having developed or grown at all. Instead, as the credits roll, you reflect on what you have felt during the last hour and a half and remember that someday this pain will be useful to you.