It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine (2007)


Crispin Hellion Glover’s It Is Fine! Everything is Fine is, to put it mildly, confronting. It concerns Paul Baker (Steven C. Stewart), a wheelchair-bound man with severe cerebral palsy living out his life in an institution, while retreating into a dream world. His escapist fantasies involve a succession of long-haired women who alone seem able to understand perfectly Baker’s severely slurred speech (viewers certainly won’t), and who accept him as a friend and, in several cases, as a sexual partner. Baker fetishises these women’s long hair, sometimes has sex with them, and then strangles or drowns them. All of which means that the film not only enacts the tabu of ‘handicapped’ sex, but also gives (fantasised) agency and (imagined) empowerment to a disabled man whose desires are essentially misogynistic and murderous. Add to this the fact that Stewart is (or was – he died shortly after the production finished) a man with cerebral palsy who was himself institutionalised for many years against his will, and that he is also the film’s screenwriter (making the script itself a merger of Stewart’s own real and imagined life), and you have a work that enables Stewart (as performer) to live out his own scripted fantasies in real hardcore scenes. There are so many different layers of unease here that they become difficult to disentangle – but It Is Fine! Everything is Fine is a beautifully stylised, often darkly funny, always unnerving (and unflinching) investigation of an overlooked, excluded individual’s frankly perverse inner life. It is hard to know exactly which individual, either, given that, in their different ways, Baker, Stewart and Glover are all outsider artists, dreaming impossibly to be let inside.

Anton Bitel