Human Nature is an eccentric comedy about a scientist at war with Mother Nature in the fight against the animal impulses of all humans.
The product of director Michel Gondry (known for directing many of Bjork’s music videos) and Academy Award nominated screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich), Human Nature provides an interesting approach to the universal wild man myth.
Tim Robbins is Nathan Bronfman, a somewhat mad scientist who prides himself on teaching little white mice appropriate table manners (an endeavor he believes will be the gateway to human conformity).
Bronfman, devoid of any ill manners, is dateless and desperate, unable to commit to a relationship with any woman who does not use the proper fork at the dinner table. We learn through his therapy sessions exactly how he adopted these compulsive tendencies.
Lila Jute (Patricia Arquette) is an outcast. Cursed with a hormonal disorder that uncontrollably causes hair to grow all over her body, she seeks refuge in the forest and embraces her hairiness.
During her hiatus, she becomes a renowned author, publishing books to educate the world on society’s unfortunate standards of beauty. Although comfortable in the wild, she realizes that some of her desires cannot be fulfilled and decides to rejoin mankind and find a companion.
Through Lila’s electrologist (Rosie Perez), Lila and Nathan meet. Their hopelessness and interest in nature brings the couple together very rapidly. Lila, however, does not disclose her hairy secret.
Their otherwise happy existence takes a turn for the worse when Lila and Nathan discover Puff (Rhys Ifans), a man raised as an ape by his mentally unstable father. Nathan is overjoyed; he can now switch his research from mice to man and he seizes the opportunity immediately. Lila objects but her protests are not heard.
With each day that Nathan spends training Puff with crash courses on western civilization, his relationship with Lila deteriorates. At home there’s Lila, but at work there’s Puff, and a beautiful French research assistant. Once Nathan discovers Lila’s secret, it gives him an excuse to rendezvous with his assistant, Gabrielle (Miranda Otto), and satisfy nature’s impulses.
Lila is completely distraught when she learns about the affair and seeks revenge, which includes freeing Puff and reintroducing him to the wild.
Human Nature is an unconventional and enjoyable comedy. The beginning of the film is full of momentum, entertaining with brilliant humor and witty dialogue. As the film progresses, Human Nature loses some of its spunk, but not enough to disengage the viewer.
The film poses some an interesting question on transcendentalism and the innate nature of man. Do we all seek to live in primitive bliss?
Human Nature believes so.
Carmen Dukes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org