by Nancy Weber
Loyalty to Our Peers be Damned.
No way not to root for the pup in My Nose, Gayle Kirschenbaum's tragicomic short documentary about the knife-work her mother thinks will save Gayle’s life.
“I knew my biological clock was ticking. I didn’t know my nose was ticking,” says the lovely, funny, talented, single Gayle, as her mother drags her to plastic surgeons in New York and Florida. One doc, a Kabbalist, keeps staring over her head. When Gayle asks why he isn’t looking at her face, he says he’s focusing on a vision of the man who will marry her, post-op.
Mr. Husband is right there, the surgeon assures her, just waiting for her to be sculpted into an object worthy of romantic love.
Maybe it’s her mother, not her nose, who’s scaring away the fellows? I feel guilty as I write those words; I know the mistakes we mothers make in the name of love. Mrs. K., between face-lifts during the period the film was shot, believes she has benefited from cosmetic surgery, and maybe she has. If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gosling, right?
Wrong, which is why this is a big little movie. A romp but an important romp.
As the closing credits roll, Gayle dedicates My Nose to her father, who has recently died. He lived long enough to see the film, though, and proudly extolled Gayle’s talent. He is the parent we all mean to be, the one with right-on values who encourages the child to create, and the hell with surfaces.
Kirschenbaum Makes Clear how she hungered for such affirmation from her mother. I suspect many viewers will share my hope that Gayle sees her mother’s participation in the film as a reflection of respect and love, an act of amends-making. Mrs. K. has to have known she was cast as the villain—this woman who dressed her infant daughter like a dolly and now would subject her to the dangers of nontrivial surgery. You want to shake her by the shoulders: How dare she reinvent her daughter’s face—she who doesn’t see her daughter? And yet there she is on the screen, energetically offering herself up as an object of scorn.
As we go to press, My Nose is starting to play festivals. You can track its progress by checking out Kirschenbaum’s Website:
My Nose is distinguished by its heart, antic energy, laugh-aloud moments, willingness to discomfort, and visual integrity. It’s more than worth the detour.
After you see it, reread The Nose, by Gogol. Please. It’s been too long. Since you read Gogol, I mean.