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DIRECTED BY: Sean Donnelly
FEATURING: Jeff Turner, Kelly McCormick, Tiffany
PLOT: A documentary profiling two fans of the pop singer Tiffany who have come to believe that they are involved in an intense and personal relationship with the celebrity.
COMMENTS: A woman named Christina Grimmie found when she was very young that she had a real talent for singing. She created a YouTube channel to showcase her performances, which drew hundreds of millions of views and eventually brought her into the orbit of Selena Gomez, who mentored the teenager and brought her along as a backup singer and opener on her tours. At the age of 20, she dazzled the judges of the reality competition show “The Voice,” where she ultimately placed third. Still seeking professional success, she recorded singles and EPs and continued to tour. After a show in Orlando, she met with some concertgoers outside the venue. One of them, an obsessed fan who took advantage of the easy access, shot her dead.
I’m not sure what brings Christina Grimmie to my mind first, considering the number of famous people murdered and attacked by their deranged fans. But there’s something haunting about her youth, about how her potential was still largely unrealized, how her level of fame could best be described as “barely.” She had hardly done enough to inspire the kind of dangerous obsession that would lead to such a tragic end. So I suppose the career of Tiffany, purveyor of such late-80s monster hits as “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Could’ve Been,” stands as a notable contrast. Given that her biggest achievements were like long-ago fireworks, captivating moments now 30 years in the past, she seems equally unlikely to be well-remembered at all, let alone talked about in the kind of messianic terms that mark the truly obsessed. Such, then, is the curious nature of some kinds of mental illness.
I Think We’re Alone Now follows two individuals whose adoration of Tiffany goes beyond mere rabid fanaticism to become genuinely disturbing. Jeff, a middle-aged man with a readily apparent case of autism spectrum disorder, believes that he has been a crucial part of the singer’s life for years and happily spouts deep-cut trivia and fabulist tales of his relationship to anyone who wanders into his path. He is surrounded by people whose kindnesses and selfish aims only encourage his behaviors. We also meet Kelly, an anguished intersex woman who has struggled with society’s cruelties and her own confused sense of her abilities and situations. She has lined the walls of her home with photo after photo of Tiffany, and while she also seems to believe that she is pledged to the star with the deepest of connections, those feelings seem more aspirational, as if validation of her belief is the only thing that anchors her in a world where she feels utterly at sea.
The movie seems to sympathize with its subjects by virtue of spending so much time taking in their points of view, but while they never confront them directly, the filmmakers present plenty of evidence Continue reading CAPSULE: I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW (2008)