Eric Judor brings us a slight, satirical comedy in his third feature, Problemos.
Urbanite couple, Victor (Eric Judor) and Jeanne (Celia Rosich), with their young daughter Margaux travel to a commune to visit ex yoga instructor and old friend of Jeanne’s, Jean-Paul (Michel Nabokoff), for a weekend. The camp is full of born again hippies sporting dodgy haircuts, djembes, and flimsy new age, socially conscious beliefs. We quickly learn that they are a collective who have rejected city living and the social constructs imposed upon them by it, opting instead, for a cleaner, less restrictive life out in the wilderness. When the camp unwittingly discovers that the world has been hit with a deadly pandemic that has wiped out the population, they jump on the opportunity to rebuild society in line with their non-conformist ideologies.
Problemos is built on the overarching joke that this community spirited group of people, when faced with an actual community building opportunity, crumble and reveal themselves to be as susceptible to the pitfalls of modern day society. They descend into a disorganized, infighting, selfish bunch, all talk and very little action, who are quick to cast out community members such as Simon (Youssef Hajdi), who they believe may have contracted the virus and Claude (Bun-hay Mean), a vagrant posing as the camp’s spiritual guru and shaman.
Sharing a similarity with FOX’s television series, Last Man on Earth, Problemos rejigs the premise slightly. Whereas, Last Man on Earth has had 4 seasons to develop its characters and story, Problemos’ 85 minute runtime and lack of narrative focus allows little room to do so. It is divided into three chapters, an affectation that only highlights the disjointed structure of the film. Tied together by the film’s conceit, scenes sit loosely side by side, awkwardly feeding into each other and stretching an already thin plot, thinner. However, as baggy as Problemos’ situational comedy may feel and as contrived as the film’s jokes may be, they do manage some genuine laughs. Sure, it’s a film with its own, ahem, problemos, but it’s sure to raise a smile.