REVIEW: "IN & OF ITSELF" ON HULU
I loved this film, a recording by director Frank Oz of a show he also staged both in New York and Los Angeles, featuring monologuist and illusionist Derek DelGaudio. Having said that, it's an extremely difficult thing to review, as in many ways, the 90-minute show is about turns and revelations. To describe what's happening in advance would also compromise the experience. I promise, I'm going to do my very best to remain absolutely vague so that you go in totally unprepared and unspoiled for what's to come. Still, the BEST course of action, if you definitely plan on watching "In & Of Itself," would be to stop reading now, go to Hulu and enjoy it, then come back later and see how you think I did.
OK, so the core theme here is about the nature of identity, with DelGaudio making genuine observations about how we find our places in the world, then telling anecdotes and performing "magic" in order to illustrate his points. The illusions are sometimes the straight-forward kinds of stuff you'd see at a more traditional kind of magic show: making solid objects disappear, sleight-of-hand, and so forth. But the illusions themselves are not the focus; instead, this is more of a one-man show that uses the illusionist's toolbox to maintain the audience's attention, upend their expectations and even catch them off-guard. One of the most emotional moments in the show -- and it can get quite emotional -- only works because the audience members who participate are surprised, and the surprise only works because the guy surprising them is an actual magician.
The editing here on the film version of "In & Of Itself" is also a technical marvel that deepens the experience for viewers at home (though I'm of course jealous of the people who got to experience this live and in-person). Oz cuts between multiple different evenings and shows at pivotal moments, so we can see how these revelations landed on different individuals and crowds. (We also get to see the Who's Who of prominent New Yorkers that attended these live shows, as the crowd becomes periodically dotted with famous faces.)
But none of this would add up to all THAT much if DelGaudio weren't such a sensitive and observant soul with an important message to impart. It's NOT much of a spoiler to tell you that "In & Of Itself" has a lot to say about who we are, and how we see ourselves, beyond the labels and titles that the world and the people around us place on us, and ultimately I found it a very positive and life-affirming experience. I'd urge you to read nothing else about it and go watch.
Title: "In & Of Itself"
Where to Watch: Hulu
Running time: 90 minutes