A deep look into the frenzied mind of Nicholas Ray, as he attempts to put what feels like all of his thoughts regarding a dying counterculture, a changing cinematic landscape, and youth itself onto the screen in an impenetrable collage of kaleidoscopic images and sounds. At times, We Can’t Go Home Again feels heartbreakingly real and insightful, as in the strange scene where a student tearfully cuts off his beard while a riot plays next door. At other times, however, this feels agonisingly pretentious , verging on the self-parodic, the kind of bullshit faux-intelligence into which film school students often get stereotyped.
And of course, because the film is about both those thoughts of Ray’s and the difficult process of applying them to film, one could argue that that dichotomy is part of the point, but if you keep doing that then there’s no real point in criticism at all.
As always, I must applaud ambition, and truthfully I’ve never seen anything like this. But that ambition also begets mess, and the whiplash I felt as the film moved between beauty and nonsense ultimately alienated me. I expect a rewatch of this soon to try to get a better hold on it, but as of right now, I’m lost.