Boy, oh boy.
I was watching Fatman Beyond last week, as much to catch Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin’s views on the new episode of WandaVision as anything else. Then, Marc Bernardin made a recommendation of a film on Hulu called In & Of Itself, and he said it the was the best thing he had seen that week. He said it was a filmed version of a stage show featuring magic and storytelling and he called it “revelatory and remarkable.” So with that recommendation committed, I wrote the movie title down on my notepad to remind me to catch it when I could.
Marc Bernardin was 100% correct. This was a masterful piece of entertainment that was both awe-inspiring and emotionally transcendent. This film grasped me and took me to a place where I didn’t know that I wanted to be. Honestly, the last film that has made me feel like this one did was the Mr. Rogers’ biopic documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor.
Derek DelGaudio is a magician and this is a one man show where he uses the magic he does, some of which is utterly amazing, to emphasize and illuminate the stories that he would tell. The idea behind the stories was to reveal to the audience not only who Derek DelGaudio was, but who they were are as well. The use of the audience in this film was part of the masterful manner DelGaudio makes these stories feel universal and connects us to the emotions and feelings of a group of strangers.
It is the type of interactions that we really need to have in this time in our history.
I do not want to go into too many specifics because part of the magic of the film is not being sure exactly where it is heading as it moves you along. The very first story DelGaudio tells us was tremendously gripping and carried through as a throughline, effectively connecting everything together. It was truly powerful.
The whole time, Derek DelGaudio looked haunted or ravaged as the stories continued, draining the emotions rom him. I cannot imagine how he could do this as a one-man play for a year and a half without being overcome with emotion constantly. It is an amazing performance.
The film is directed by Frank Oz and was executive produced by Stephen Colbert and Evelyn McGee-Colbert. Colbert had seen the stage show and was so impressed with the manner of the show that he wanted to help create the film version to preserve the experience.
In & Of Itself is a powerful film that is truly an important piece for the world we live in now.