When a pair of college age young women reunite for their last summer together, will their friendship be able to survive after a shared traumatic experience?
In a small New England town, Iris (Temple) and Catherine (Garner) decide to share a house with friends once their college semester has concluded; they hope to enjoy their summer together – which may in fact be their last as life could soon have them taking some unexpected turns. For one thing, Iris has pursued post-graduate studies and is now working on a thesis; Catherine, however, may not have such certain directions with regard to her own future. Nevertheless, they will make an effort to put their troubles aside and have fun for the next couple of months.
As much as the two young women try to enjoy themselves, there is an unspoken secret between them: the death of their mutual friend Mae, which occurred just a few months ago. There was an automobile accident – Catherine was driving. Although unimpaired by either drugs or alcohol, the accident was her fault because she took her eye off the road at a sharp turn; both she and Iris suffered injuries, but Mae was flung from the car and perished. In the short term, both Iris and Christine suffer survivor’s guilt, but attempt to heal their emotional wounds through the bonds of friendship.
That, however, is not the only way the two young women try to heal. Iris has regular meetings with Gerald (Alessandro Nivola), the forty-something married college professor advising her on her thesis. With Gerald’s wife stuck in New York City due to work-related matters, Iris seizes this opportunity to put the moves on Gerald. Finding this an irresistible opportunity, Gerald engages in an affair with his student. Guilty over the incident that killed Mae, Catherine seduces Mae’s brother, hoping to seek his forgiveness. But when Mae’s parents sue Catherine over the wrongful death of their daughter, what impact will this have on her friendship with Iris?
How you view eroticism may very well determine how you experience “One Percent More Humid”. There is plenty of sex and nudity; the majority of this is young female nudity, it’s a bit surprising that it comes from a female director. If it came from a male director, would it have been considered exploitative? Although slightly over an hour and a half in length, it feels long and languid due to its overwhelmingly dour tone. While there are attempts at lighthearted moments to break up the mood, one never loses the sense that there is a dark cloud hanging over the entire movie as well as the characters themselves. No matter how much partying any of them may do, their lives are irrevocably headed for a derailment.
The performances – especially by the two girls – are quite convincing and passionate. To a degree, it’s the screenplay that lets them down because for a movie of a reasonable length, it takes a bit too long to get its story started – and the reveal for its angst is somewhat drawn out. It needed to get to the point a little more quickly. The fact that the future of the friendship between these girls remains somewhat up in the air at the end is not a problem; what is a problem, however, it the fact that we don’t learn earlier in the film why it will eventually and inevitably come to that conclusion.
Following the screening, there was an interview with most of the cast and the director/screenwriter Liz W. Garcia. Garcia is a staunch advocate of more women in filmmaking and believes that women’s voices need to be heard from with increasing frequency in the movies; while Garcia believes that women have made progress, she concedes that there is still a long way to go to attain equality. Much of the system in the film industry, she maintains, is not entirely supportive of this – whether this is an anti-feminist backlash or the belief that the movies are not marketable is not entirely clear.