Wendell and the Lemon is like no film you’ve ever seen before. It is about a man obsessed with a lemon he finds. If you were to ascribe a genre to it it would definitely be a comedy, as most of it is hilarious. There are however long stretches in the second half with few laughs. As the lemon’s hold over Wendell intensifies he becomes unable to focus on anything else, and the thin line between comedy and tragedy blurs even more.
This idea has been gestating in the mind of writer/ director Lawrence Krauser for over 20 years. When it looked like he wasn’t going to be able to film it (a difficult pitch, as one would imagine) he wrote the story as a novel and published ‘Lemon’ in 2002. The idea of filming it remained a lemon he couldn’t let go of and he was finally able to exorcise that demon to the benefit of anyone who watches this movie.
In the way that there’s Mamet style of acting or a Tony Scott way of cutting, Krauser has created a language of cinema all his own. He has surrounded himself with a cast (led by Todd D’Amour as Wendell) and crew who can interpret his language perfectly. The superb editing job done by Larissa Tokmakova (Krauser’s wife) is particularly unusual, a little schizophrenic at times, but if you were to ever see Krauser speak you would see how the cutting is evocative of the director’s own mannerisms. This was not an intentional choice on his part, Tokmakova said the footage she received was just a mess, but hey, but when life gives you lemons, right?
This film can best be described by a quote from Wendell’s boss when he is berating him for his lemon loving ways: “Of what group are you a member? You’re the only specimen.”
Screens Saturday, Jan 24, 10:30pm and Thursday, Jan 29, 11:00am