Video Review: Justin Timberlake "Not A Bad Thing"

Over black-and-white sped up footage of people walking in New York City, a young woman says that “this is a true story.” She explains that on January 12, 2014, “a crisp, cold Sunday night” on a train heading for New York City, a man asked his girlfriend to marry him while playing a Justin Timberlake song. She says it was something rare to see. For the  documentary, she wants to find the couple and then asks “have you seen this couple?” as the hand drawn picture of them turns color.

The young man holds a large sign and staples the flyer of the drawing to poles around the city. Taped on walls and windows, the photo is ubiquitous in every borough. He hands out flyers.

Inside a home, a fortysomething man says, with his wife next to him, that “love isn’t something you could really look for.” A thirtysomething man, with his wife and little boy in the middle says, “you find love and then you lose love, then you have to work to find it again.”

A twentysomething woman with her boyfriend explains someone has to find themselves first before falling in love.

The young man says the idea for the documentary came about after a friend told them what happened one day on the train. In their office, notes taped to board ask “Who is he? Who is she?” while he says they want to feature the couple’s story.

Sitting on the steps, the young woman texts the young man, wondering if they received any information yet. He responds that got the radio station, Z100.

At the radio, the DJ, Maxwell introduces himself and the filmmakers to his audience. He tells what he knows about the couple:  Justin Timberlake’s “Not A Bad Thing” is their song and says for someone to call into the show who knows them.

Inside the home, a thirtysomething man bends down on one knee and his girlfriend nods yes. She says proposals are “inspiring.” A young man says proposals take a lot of planning. However, it’s the person who matters the most.

The thirtysomething man, with the wife and little boy, said he it was simple for him. He asked her one morning after waking up. A twentysomething man says he knew his girlfriend was going to say yes. His girlfriend laughs, saying he was freaking out about her answer.

The filmmakers talk on the phone. In the office, people walk to the map and mark areas. The young man texts the young man to see if she’s heard anything. She tells him “not yet.”

A fiftysomething man says that “love is an attachment” and he could only love his girlfriend.

In a taxi, the young man declares that “this has got to be done.”

A twentysomething woman believes love is the greatest emotional upheaval one will ever feel.

The filmmakers approach a house, nervous about finally meeting the couple. But an older woman answers the door and the young man makes the cut sign across his neck.

Back at the office, the young woman points to the board, asking if their has been any progress. Some young woman type on the computers and make phone calls.

They read over their Twitter account, which lists places the couple where might work or live. The young woman texts him if he has come across someone who had seen them. He gives her a hopeful response that a guy said he heard about it. Other people text back that they haven’t had any luck. The young woman encourages them to keep going.

A twentysomething man says there “is no on and off switch to love.” A young woman says to her girlfriend that “love finds you.” A thirtysomething  woman holds her hand and says “engaged.” Another twentysomething woman says they recently got engaged.

In black-and-white, the train makes it way to the city again.

Back in color, the young man drives. The young woman, frustrated, exclaims “where have you been?”

The fortysomething woman (the first couple featured) remarks that the proposal was “romantic.” The twentysomething woman (who joked with her husband that he was scared) believes it was fate. All the couples kiss.

The young man texts the young woman, wondering if their search will ever yield anything. The young woman says “maybe one day.”

Locks are strung together outside on a wire and fences.

The young woman says they may have a found an address and are going to see if it’s them. They leave the car.

Rating: 2/5

The young woman, who latched onto the story, is determined to make it a part of their documentary. They employ a team of people and set up a call center. They start an investigation and promote through their social media accounts. They tell the story to the local radio station in New York City.

Nonetheless, in the era of unlimited information and lack of privacy, the couple remains  mystery. Given, the filmmakers have the office set up like a television procedural set speaks of their incompetence. They exchange the same text messages over and over without asking any questions of their own. The young woman bosses the people in the office and adds some “good jobs!” but it seems as though she thinks it’s her job to just believe.

Due to the young woman’s unwillingness to pivot from the original idea, it’s as though she’s doing it to ward off the cynicism she feels within. The young man, although disappointed, has given up by the end and is only appeasing her.

However, the couples, as they talk about love and how they met, are filler. For the filmmakers, their stories and opinions don’t matter as much. To them, it’s alternate footage and a majority of it will be scrapped once the couple is found.

Director: Dennis Lu Year: 2014

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