From first view of the trailer for this film, I gathered that it was going to have a lot to do with love and hardship, and that made it really relatable. With trailer lines like “Things will get better” and “People spend their whole lives killing themselves and getting nowhere” the film also promised to be highly relevant to a lot of struggles faced by today’s media audience.
I also found the intended audience refreshing. Being a twenty-something not in high school anymore, but not yet in what is generally considered the “adult workforce”, I don’t often see characters I can relate to on a movie screen.
The Brass Teapot, however, gave me John and Alice Macy, two recent university graduates who are suddenly faced with the reality that doing what everyone tells you will help you succeed does not actually guarantee success. Both in possession of Bachelor’s degrees and minimum wage (or no) jobs, John and Alice bear a striking resemblance to what new university graduates are seeing when they attempt to enter not only the workforce, but post-academic life itself.
I liked everything I got from the trailer; it seemed to me the film was highly relevant. It’s a poster made for my generation, who has grown up being told that if they do things right they will be taken care of – but did all of those things and not only wasn’t, but was instead handed a world that wanted nothing to do with them. I couldn’t wait to watch it.
Based on the comic book series of the same title, the film is centered on the story of John and Alice Macy, high school sweethearts who recently graduated from university with their respective degrees. They try to find a way to juggle work, student debts, unemployment, and their own dwindling prospects despite the expectations they had as university graduates.
The set up of the film is wonderful – quickly establishing the bond between John and Alice as a strong one. Their love for each other is refreshing both in its honesty and its steadfastness. Both characters also have a very positive outlook on the world around them. John keeps brightly colored toys in his cubicle at work, and Alice is always ready with a smile. As someone who grew up with Disney films, I’m always trying to find the magic and adventure in my day-to-day life. Alice and John have a Disney attitude: loving, open, and positive.
Their contrast with the world around them is an experience I relate to well. Most of my mothers’ generation would call their optimism childish or naive, comments I believe many members of my generation have received. I appreciate this vibe from the film. John and Alice are good people who have fallen on hard times. They try their best to stay afloat both financially and emotionally in a world that refuses to admit it has set its young people up for failure. On top of establishing a very wide viewer demographic, it raises a very good point.
Then John and Alice find the brass teapot, an heirloom that spits out money whenever its owners hurt themselves. Immediately, the young couple find themselves with a way to not only eradicate the debts that haunt them, but to also make their dreams come true. And at first it doesn’t seem as though finding the teapot was a bad thing at all. I even found myself wishing for an opportunity with the teapot at this point in the film.
But, as it always does, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The teapot exploits even the smallest trace of evil motives in its owners. What begins as holding their hands over stove burners escalates to broken legs, brutal bar fights, destroying other couples marriages, and emotionally wounding each other. For, as the teapot roots itself deeper into their lives, it makes the experience of both their pain and others’ more pleasurable.
It isn’t long before John and Alice find themselves confronted with the question of “how far is too far?” With their love and very lives at stake, they have to navigate whether what the rest of the world is telling them they want is what they need.
The Brass Teapot forces you to consider, at what point is money or the illusion of success more important than the love we have for those around us and their well-being? This idea is brought into focus in a way that makes you agree with the opposition before you challenge it – which is the most effective way and really makes you pay attention and learn something. It’s a film about letting go of bitterness and celebrating all that you have. It doesn’t mean the way we do things is okay; it means that as long as we are good people, we could be doing things a lot worse.
- Starring: Juno Temple, Michael Angarano
- Directed by: Ramaa Mosley
- Running Time: 101 minutes
- Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance