Don’t Think Twice, or, Suicide Squad and the Myths of Success and Failure

dontthinktwice

So that’s it huh? We’re some kind of Suicide Squad?

At first glance you’d be forgiven for not seeing any connective tissue between Suicide Squad and Don’t Think Twice, writer/director Mike Birbiglia’s sophomore film about a close-knit improv group in New York City. But one of them proves the other.

Don’t Think Twice is something of an artisanal time bomb. The writing and acting set up the report of its cast of characters – their social dynamics, their personal histories, their wildest dreams and deepest insecurities – with precision, like so many little trip wires being wound around dangerous powders, lying in wait in full view of the audience.

And then the inevitable big red button.

One of the group gets called up to the big leagues and is cast on the equivalent of Saturday Night Live. From there, though the audience might not know exactly how much time is on the clock, it’s plain, and painful, to see that the wires have been tripped and things are about to get explosively real.

What follows is an uncomfortable, upsetting exploration of success and failure. Don’t Think Twice doesn’t stop at asking whether or not someone else’s success constitutes your own failure, it asks whether someone’s success constitutes success at all.

Suicide Squad.

As of this writing Suicide Squad has made $730,000,000.

Success?

As of this writing Suicide Squad has a Metascore of 40%.

Failure?

If you can’t definitively assess the success or failure of something as vapid as a summer blockbuster how can anyone ever hope to gauge the success or failure of a life?

Without spoiling anything, when the credits rolled there wasn’t a character in Don’t Think Twice I’d consider The Winner any more than there was one I could deem The Loser. Ultimately, Birbiglia gives us a movie that dares to define its characters not by the success or failure of their pursuits, but by the vigor of the pursuer and the nature of the pursued.

Don’t Think Twice is a film for anyone who’s ever hoped to achieve anything anyone else ever also hoped to do.

 

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