Over the weekend I watched a documentary that has sort of shaken me up a little bit. Director Sean Donnelly brings us a startling picture of obsession, desperation, isolation, and unrequited love in his documentary I Think We’re Alone Now. The film chronicles the lives of Jeff Turner and Kelly McCormick, two troubled people that have several things in common; they are outcasts, social pariahs, and disenfranchised. Most importantly though they both have an obsession with 80’s pop star Tiffany. This is the theme that carries on throughout the film.
Jeff Turner is a fifty year old man with Aspergers syndrome who lives off of disability, he has a near photographic memory of Tiffany’s career, from when her singles were released to when she played certain songs live. He was accused of stalking Tiffany, showing up at her home, greeting her with white chrysanthemums and a katana. For a while she had a restraining order against him, but after the judge refused to renew it after three years he returned to keeping up with his only love. He is a lovable character, despite his inherent creepiness. We get to see him being degraded by his step father, we see the squalor he lives in, but most importantly we are painted a picture of a man with an obsession.
Kelly is a 35 year old inter-sex person living in Colorado. She too believes that Tiffany has saved her life and they are meant to be together. Her story is a sad one, filled with disappointment and alcoholism. We see her struggle with society and how interpersonal relationships can be tricky if you don’t fit into binary gender roles. Eventually she meets Jeff at a Tiffany show in Las Vegas, and the tension and jealousy over the once teen idol is sad and funny at the same time.
At the end of the film we realize that despite Jeff and Kelly’s flaws they are still people, ones that we come to admire even. This documentary may be all about Tiffany and her two biggest fans, but it really has a lot more going on. This film is about how we make our way through the world, and after seeing these two people struggle I realized that I am not so perfect myself.