94. Human Nature (Michel Gondry, 2001)
Human Nature is the first collaboration between screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry. The film's story involves a collection of oddball characters. Patricia Arquette is a young woman with a rare hormonal condition in which her hair grows rapidly all over her body, Tim Robbins is a scientist, Dr. Nathan Bronfman, teaching and observing manners in other animals, and Rhys Ifans is a man raised in the wilderness later affectionately named Puff, lacking any level of civilized sophistication. Finding Puff in the wild Nathan takes it upon himself to civilize the wild man, studying him in the process.
Of all Kaufman's films Human Nature appears to be his most overlooked and unappreciated. Perhaps the silliness of the movie either turns people away or masks the real wit in the picture, of which there is indeed plenty. Throughout the movie Puff progresses from a sex driven animal to a more sophisticated man, though it becomes clear that mankind's apparent civilized nature is only there to obscure and cover the reality of his baser instincts. It's as though in the process to obtain what we really want we have to appear as if we don't desire it at all.
Human Nature is not just silly, but the absurdity, like Kaufman's first feature screenplay Being John Malkovich (1999), is so strong it's nearly palpable. From the film's title its theme should be plain as day, poking fun at the true human nature of mankind. One of my favorite absurd running bits of comedy in the movie is the way it shows Puff's unrealistic rapid progression through learning art, literature, and so forth becoming a man of "culture". The movie continuously references the unnatural absurdity of his educational growth as it uses it to comment on man's lack of control on their own instinctive desires, to undermine the entire facade. Though Human Nature's satirization on human manners may be blunt and to the point it is nevertheless wholly amusing.
Films from 2001 on List:
Human Nature (Michel Gondry)