Review by Camden Ferrell
One of the few things that audiences will largely agree on about Jane Schoenbrun’s newest film is that it is ambitious and one-of-a-kind. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair had its premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and has found its way around the world, playing numerous festivals since then. The multi-layered nature of the movie may not make it accessible to some audiences, but it’s a trippy and sometimes uneasy look at identity through the lens of internet culture.
Casey is a young girl in a small town, and she finds herself immersed in a role-playing game online. From here, we see her document her experience and journey with this phenomenon from the confines of her attic bedroom. This is a uniquely modern story that blends many facets of internet culture into a somewhat harrowing and ethereal experience.
Schoenbrun’s style is on full display from the first moment, and their aesthetic is distinct if nothing else. The execution of everything has dark undertones that are nuanced enough to make you feel uneasy without detracting from their overall intent. This is certainly an artistic vision that is not for everyone, but it’s bold and one of the most fearless displays of personal identity and dysphoria that we may have seen so far in contemporary cinema.
This movie relies heavily on its premise and underlying themes, but it’s a premise that is only as strong as its lead actress. Anna Cobb stuns in her feature film debut with a rather challenging role for a new actress. Thankfully, she seems to have adopted this role well and knows how to mesh with Schoenbrun’s aesthetic and direction.
Aside from the narrative itself, the movie is also elevated by its interesting shot compositions and chronically online feeling. The fitting music of Alex G also works wonders throughout the movie in generating the desired atmosphere for the movie. It’s an unconventional aesthetic that I don’t think could work with other movies, but it’s one that seems essential for a movie like this.
Another great part of this movie is how Schoenbrun is able to emphatically convey their messages and feelings. Even to someone like me who has had wildly different experiences from the director, this movie gave me a lucid look into the unique perspective of them as a person and an artist. Schoenbrun has proven themselves as a skilled storyteller who is able to impart their perspectives and feelings to an audience who would otherwise not be privy to this part of human identity.
Despite everything that is working in the movie’s favor, I do find that without context into its creator or intent, this movie might not be particularly accessible. It’s a nuanced project that rewards analysis, but it is also one that might rely a little too heavily on a specific perspective going into it.
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair rewards viewers who are willing to broaden their horizons and perspectives. It’s a wholly original act of cinematic dysphoria that will make you feel everything but bored. It’s hard to put into words why this movie is so hauntingly resonant, but it’s a great showcase for Schoenbrun as a creative voice that is worth keeping on your radar.
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is in theaters April 15.