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Movie Review: 'In & Of Itself' Has An Astonishing Effect On The Audience

There’s a tendency among some people—maybe a lot of people—to miss what’s really magical about something by focusing on the wrong part of it. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy things in different ways—it’s just, like, think about this: imagine going to a movie and telling everyone, “yeah, fine, but those pictures aren’t really moving, they’re actually just 24 separate pictures shown really quickly each second so it looks like they’re moving.” I mean, sure, but it seems like you’re missing the point.

There’s a new movie on Hulu called In & Of Itself—it’s a concert film, of sorts, directed by Frank Oz, of the performance of a stage show in New York by a guy named Derek DelGaudio. The show ran 552 times, and it’s easy to make assumptions about what you think you’ll see before you see it. DelGaudio is an illusionist, and a mentalist, and now you’re tuning out if this isn’t something that typically interests you. But please, come back, don’t focus on the wrong thing. He’s also a storyteller, a terribly skilled one, and he creates a show about identity, personal pain, the things that make us who we are, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, and the stories other people tell themselves about us.

And over the course of the performance, we get to what really matters, and what makes In & Of Itself one of the most astonishing things I’ve seen in a long time—we see the effect it has on the audience. It doesn’t matter if what we see on the stage can be explained, of course it can. And it doesn’t really even matter if what DelGaudio is saying is actually profound or if it’s just some words dressed up to seem profound. Because just wait, and see the looks on their faces. It’s not simple amazement, it’s something far, far deeper. By the end, DelGaudio makes each person genuinely feel seen as a person. This is an extraordinary gift. And it’s the true magic of In & Of Itself.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.