Features and Columns · Movies

Facing Film Fatigue

By  · Published on September 13th, 2016

Dear FSR

It’s better to write “Fade Out” than to burn away.

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been faced with a question that has no solid answer. Some people may take such a puzzle to a trusted confidant, a friendly pastor, or the esteemed annals of Yahoo! Answers. But will they have the expertise needed to solve your most pressing film predicaments?

Think of Dear FSR as an impartial arbiter for all your film concerns. Boyfriend texting while you’re trying to show him your most precious Ozu? What’s the best way to confront the guy who snuck that pungent curry into your cramped theater? This is an advice column for film fans, by a film fan.

Dear FSR,

I’m the film guy in my friend group. That means I’m the one people turn to when they have questions on what to see or if they want to know if a certain movie is good. Even though most of the time I’ve seen them, if I haven’t they’re disappointed. The expectation that I’m up to date on every new and future movie AND every film since the Lumiere brothers is straining some of my friendships. As much as I love movies, I don’t want this to be my primary interaction with people. I just want to live my life! How can I avoid getting burned out on either my friends or the movies?


Film-Fatigued Friend

Dear Film-Fatigued,

Being the cinephile in your group of friends can be taxing – trust me, I know. As a film critic whose friends know as much about movies as your average American gleans from commercials during NFL games, I’ve experienced this firsthand. Conversations revolve around what’s good in theaters or what’s worth watching on demand. The dating scene inevitably transforms you from boy/girlfriend material to Moviefone that happens to pay for dinner. Even if it’s about your passion – hell, even if it’s your career – nobody likes being pigeonholed.

Burnout and fatigue are definitely symptoms of pigeonholedom, but they can also come from overconsumption of similar media (say, a week-long film festival of heavy drama or a 24-hour horror marathon). To both ailments, the recommended cure is the same: variety. Knock yourself out of the loop. Get away from the news cycle and blogs. Escape routines, even if that means telling your friends you need some space (or hey, that maybe you want to talk about something besides movies).

This’ll be understandably difficult, because obsession with being up-to-date on all things Hollywood can border on the addictive. There’s a phenomenon known as FOMO (fear of missing out) that’s associated with people used to being on the cutting edge of news and social media. Suppressing that urge can be stressful, but however you get the break (either socially or habitually) will help refresh and rejuvenate your relationships and your love of movies.

All sorts of creative professionals talk about needing to recharge the mental batteries with vacations either geographic or generic – get away from the norm even if you’re not moving locations. It’ll give you a respite from the demands of your friends (who should’ve picked up on the fact that they were using you as a very specific and fleshy Google) and let your brain flex in new, unfettered ways. It’s no accident that Lin-Manuel Miranda came up with the idea for his hit Broadway show “Hamilton” on vacation.

Lucky for you, this is entirely in your hands. You don’t have to abandon being the film friend. You can be the guy who’s not JUST the film friend. If having something extra to connect with your friends over is important to you, ask them to recommend the best of their interest – whatever it may be. If you just want more facets in your friendship, it also couldn’t hurt to start with yourself. Abandon the movies for a bit and dive headlong into a new obsession, then come back full of ripe new conversational topics and brimming with new ideas.

If – and only if – you’re completely resolute in sticking with your film guns, there’s an alternative approach to this problem: lean in.

That’s right, embrace your absolute power over your friend group’s cinematic habits. Become a film tyrant and dictate the movies seen by your clique with an iron fist. Teach them that bad movies are good and good movies are bad. Train them to look for auteurism in schlock and hate the finer points of classic French film. Tell them Nic Cage is the greatest actor who has ever lived and that his filmography is flawless.

Of course, this would be cruel.

But it would certainly be a change of pace.

I’m not telling you how to live your life,


Do you have a question for FSR? Tweet us with the hashtag #DearFSR, ask in the comments, use our member’s only chat, or e-mail us at [email protected]

We’ll be back answering your questions every Tuesday!

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).