2010 DOC NYC: Robert Greene's Kati with an I
Source: IONCINEMA.com Festival Coverage
Kati with an I, directed by Robert Greene, is an introspective documentary about an Alabama teenage girl named Kati who is two days away from graduating high school and engaged to her high school boyfriend. Her parents live in North Carolina for work reasons, and her graduation spells the end for her years of adolescence, getting ready to enter adulthood. Kati, who is Greene’s half-sister, is a bright and lovely young woman; however, the film’s slow and meandering pace does not provide enough interest in what is a rather dull story.
Kati spends her last days before graduation living it up with her friends: having a pool party, taking long drives, and getting dressed up for a party. It’s as if they’re trying to hold onto their sisterhood before they inevitably part, possibly drifting apart while they attend college. Their sisterhood is beautifully captured by cinematographer Sean Williams (Beetle Queen of Tokyo), and despite being on the brink of 18, they seem more like cherubic young girls.
Kati’s relationship with her fiancé is fraught. James, while he wants to be a meteorologist, is still very childish and apathetic at his age. He is watched over closely by his mother, and doesn’t seem like an intellectual equal for Kati, who speaks with an astute awareness of the world around her. He hesitates to follow her to North Carolina to spend the summer with her and her parents, and for all of their talk of “I love yous,” it never rings as particularly genuine, more of what a teenage couple says to each other out of infatuation or puppy love. James doesn’t seem quite all there, and when the end of the film reveals their future, it looks like a hard road ahead of them.
Kati with an I attempts to document the coming-of-age of a young woman growing into adulthood (and even interjects scenes with home video footage of a child Kati talking about her life and emotions) and shedding her teenage skin. But it plays like a home movie mixed with a teen drama, and isn’t compelling enough of a watch. Greene obviously has personal attachment to Kati, through blood and her experience in front of his camera as well as his ex-girlfriend’s photo work. But it rambles along, and by the end of the film, there isn’t a solid, much-needed resolution.