One Percent More Humid (2017)

  • Time: 98 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Liz W. Garcia
  • Cast: Julia Garner, Juno Temple, Maggie Siff


Nominated for Best U.S. Narrative Feature and Winner of Best Actor (Alessandro Nivola) in a U.S. Narrative Feature at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, One Percent More Humid is a coming-of-age story about friendship and grief. Catherine (Julia Garner) and Iris (Juno Temple), childhood friends returning home to a hot and humid New England summer, fill their days and nights with parties, skinny-dipping and rekindling old relationships, but when a shared trauma from their past becomes increasingly difficult to suppress, a wedge between the two grows and each begin to pursue forbidden love affairs.

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  • “If it would just be one percent more humid…then we would all drown,” Iris (Juno Temple) drunkenly ponders in writer-director Liz W. Garcia’s coming-of-age drama. Yet Iris and best friend Catherine (Julia Garner) are already drowning in confusion, in sadness, and particularly in grief, the latter stemming from the death of their best friend Mae (Olivia Luccardi).

    It’s been three or four months since the car accident that took Mae’s life and Catherine has returned to town to while away the summer with Iris. When not smoking weed or skinny-dipping in the lake with Catherine, Iris is working at the local deli and attempting to work on her thesis about grief. Soon, both girls are embarking on dangerous liaisons to try and work through their sorrow.

    For Catherine, it’s with Billy (Philip Ettinger), Mae’s brother who initially wants nothing to do with Catherine, but who is soon channeling his rage through their sexual encounters. Far more perilous is Iris’s affair with her thesis advisor Gerald (Alessandro Nivola), whose wife Lisette (Maggie Siff) is conveniently away in the city, as genuine feelings are soon developing between the two, though Gerald is more aware than Iris that their relationship will never be more than what it is. Though the dynamic between Catherine and Billy may arguably be the more intriguing of the two affairs, more focus is spent on the more predictable one between Iris and Gerald. This seems in line with Iris being the more dominant figure of the two damaged girls, but this also means that Catherine is an almost severely underwritten character, which results in an inevitably rote performance from Garner.

    Not that Garcia fully fleshes out Iris, though the character and her storyline benefits from Temple’s emotionally invested portrayal. Temple and Nivola also share a tender and complicated connection that breathes some life into something that’s been seen so many times before. However, it’s that familiarity that fatigues and ultimately undermines One Percent More Humid. At this point, both Temple and Garner could do their roles in their sleep, so often have they played vulnerable and broken young women. There’s nothing in the film that isn’t predictable from the outset, and certainly nothing in Garcia’s treatment that offers an especially fresh perspective.

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