By Gregory Crofton
I first came to know Robert Greene’s work when I saw his film ACTRESS in January. I was swept up by it. The film wraps itself around you with its reality, cinematography and music. KATI WITH AN i does a similar thing, except instead of motherhood and acting careers, it looks at young love and a loss of innocence.
You spend just three days with Kati as she’s about to graduate from high school in Alabama, but it feels much longer, which is a good thing in this case. You meet Kati’s fiance James. You swim with them, ride in the car with them, see James reluctantly hug Kati’s father goodnight outside a motel. KATI WITH AN i makes Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD seem inconsequential. As is with with other great art, you wonder how Greene and his team did it, how they achieved this degree of intimacy.
But film ends quickly after a surprising revelation, and as the credits rolled, I found myself wondering if things really happened the way they are shown. Greene’s ACTRESS blurs fact and fiction, or “using elements of melodrama and cinema verité,” according to the ACTRESS website.
Cinema verité is a style of filmmaking that involves observing a situation, foregoing questions and other types of interaction. Did Greene do the same sort of mixing of honest footage with melodrama for KATI WITH AN i? I doubt it, the website for that film describes it as “an intimate documentary portrait,” but the thought occurred to me.