Paint It Black is the directorial debut of Amber Tamblyn, a plucky showbiz lifer who probably hates to be called "plucky." It's based on the book by the venerable Janet Fitch, who probably objects to the title of "venerable." (I assure you it means "well-respected" in this case, not "old"). Many people know Janet from White Oleander, which was made into a very good film starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Paint it Black, however, has been made into an exceptional film.
I'm a reluctant blogger at best, so rather than going into a lengthy background and description of the book and film and how they are similar or different, let me jump right into the three reasons I appreciate this author and this director.
Janet Fitch: 1). Her books feature strong and complex female characters who are delightfully unpredictable. 2). Like a scribe of the goddess Kali, she writes about female sexuality as a force of creation and destruction. 3). She isn't scared to be both poetical and profane in her writing; it flows from the mundane to the vulgar to the sublime with ease.
Amber Tamblyn: 1). Her directorial style in this first film is both visually striking and emotionally eviscerating, because she doesn't shy away from the in-between moments when the characters are lost within themselves. 2). She is a poet, and her film reflects that sensibility. Conventional writing wisdom says to show rather than tell. Paint it Black does neither; instead it suggests, symbolizes, and intuits. 3). This is a film that bypasses the cerebrum and hits straight in the subconscious. You can give it a fine intellectual analysis and debate it til' the cows come home, but its power lies in the unsaid and undefinable; the moments that wrench at your gut for no reason you can pin down.
In an era when writing has become frequently either maudlin or contrived, any work of Janet Fitch's is a thoroughly welcome change of pace.. And I can't wait to see what comes next from Amber Tamblyn, a young woman who is defying convention to bring us something real, visceral, and challenging. Congratulations to all involved!