(L-R) Elijah Bynum, Haley Bennett, Jonathan Majors, and Taylour Paige go to the IMDb Portrait Studio at Acura Pageant Village at Sundance 2023. Picture Supply: Getty Photographs for IMDb /Corey Nickols
Think about a dimly lit room in a small home that’s coated with pictures of muscly, oiled-up male bodybuilders. This room exists in “Journal Desires” — a characteristic from writer-director Elijah Bynum that premiered on the 2023 Sundance Movie Pageant — and it belongs to Killian Maddox (performed by Jonathan Majors), an novice bodybuilder who’s caring for his ailing grandfather. Killian spends his days coaching excessively in his storage and on the fitness center, all in an try and win the world championships and seem on the quilt of esteemed magazines like his idol, Brad Vanderhorn (Michael O’Hearn).
Killian’s obsessive tendency to “repair” his physique initially borders on vainness, however a deeper examination of “Journal Desires” reveals a bigger reality on the coronary heart of the movie: he merely desires to be remembered. Killian fears being invisible, and like many people, needs to have a spot on this planet the place he’s acknowledged. So, he fights with each ounce of his being to realize the highlight he so desperately craves.
“The true message is that we’ve to assist one another heal.”
The viewers is rooting for Killian — regardless of his rage and violent conduct. In his unhinged actions, Killian’s insecurity and psychological well being struggles change into obvious, which is maybe why he is in the end a sympathetic character. It is clear he feels always judged, and in flip, he is unable to realize any actual emotional intimacy.
In a single scene specifically, he asks his crush, Jessie (Haley Bennett), out on a date. The duo work collectively at a neighborhood grocery store, and the complete change is awkward and endearing unexpectedly; the viewers is hoping that, lastly, Killian will discover somebody who can persistently be on his facet. However when Killian and Jessie go on their date at a neighborhood steakhouse, the preliminary charming banter between them transforms into what Bennett describes as a “date from hell,” due to Killian’s endless rant about his bodybuilding.
“I liked the scenes between Jessie and Killian once I first learn the script,” Bennett tells POPSUGAR. “At first, she was actually excited and hopeful to discover a reference to one other human being. Each Jessie and Killian are shy and uncomfortable characters. Jessie additionally feels unworthy, and Killian carries a lot darkish trauma. However, in the course of the date when Killian begins speaking about his household historical past and his bodybuilding, she is crestfallen when she sees how swallowed up he’s by his obsession and ambition.”
Throughout that date scene, although, Bennett was really uncomfortable. She reveals that the temperature was upwards of 105 levels in Los Angeles on the day of taking pictures — the true irritation of the sweater she was carrying, plus the sweat and the warmth, added to the onscreen cringe-worthiness.
“This scene will encourage memes,” Bennett jokes.
When the date ends poorly (with Jessie excusing herself to go to the lavatory after which in the end leaving the restaurant), Bennett’s character is overcome with disgrace for not with the ability to foster a reference to Killian.
There is a very apparent theme in “Journal Desires” — the characters are pretending to be OK even once they’re not. When Bennett first learn Bynum’s script, she was fascinated by the underlying themes of empathy and self-sabotage on account of trauma and the way the writing efficiently translated these ideas cinematically. To arrange for the position, she totally learn the script to collect clues about her character, did a number of dreamwork (which includes unpacking and deciphering the which means of your goals for the aim of gaining extra self-awareness), and channeled elements of her personal life into the character, like she does with any position. For example, in that specific restaurant scene, Jessie feels humiliated when Killian assaults her for not understanding his idol; Bennett thought concerning the instances she skilled humiliation in her private life and used that as a mechanism for the scene, she says.
Bennett has appeared in different buzzy movies like “Until” and “Hillbilly Elegy”; she’s additionally simply wrapped filming “Clicquot” in France, wherein she portrays the titular position, the lady behind the well-known Champagne label. However the premiere of “Journal Desires”on Jan. 20 at Sundance was the primary time Bennett had watched her most up-to-date launch in its entirety.
“I used to be simply reeling by how intense and highly effective the movie was and the way it shook me to the core and the marvelous efficiency and craftsmanship that went into making it,” Bennett says. “The movie blew me away, and it was no small feat for a movie that was made on a 24-day schedule . . . Jonathan’s efficiency was so highly effective, and will probably be laborious to discover a higher efficiency in 2023 than in Jonathan Majors.”
And much more than that, Bennett says, she hopes the movie helps those that watch it. On a bigger scale, the film reveals that all of us matter, even when our personal traumas have us feeling damaged.
“Filmmaking for me is holistic and therapeutic, and I view creativity and storytelling as therapeutic,” Bennett says. “That is why I wished to be a part of making this movie, as a result of the true message is that we’ve to assist one another heal.”
And that message is essential for society-at-large, she provides: “America must heal urgently, in order that unhealthy issues do not maintain taking place, and that begins with us, the people, the storytellers who’re chargeable for us to empathize with one another — and I feel ‘Journal Desires’ carries that message ahead.”