Thou Wast Mild and Lovely

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Thou Wast Mild and Lovely
Thou Wast Mild & Lovely poster.png
Directed by Josephine Decker
Produced byLaura Heberton
Laura Klein
Interests Lavalette
Russell Sheaffer
Written byJosephine Decker
Starring Joe Swanberg
Sophie Traub
Robert Longstreet
Music byMolly Herron
Jeff Young
CinematographyAshley Connor
Edited byDavid Barker
Josephine Decker
Steven Schardt
Distributed byCinelicious
Release date
  • February 7, 2014 (2014-02-07)(Berlin International Film Festival)
  • April 11, 2014 (2014-04-11)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States

Thou Wast Mild and Lovely is a 2014 experimental thriller film written and directed by Josephine Decker and starring Joe Swanberg, Sophie Traub, and Robert Longstreet.




To raise money for the film's post-production, [1] Decker ran a crowdfunding campaign on the website Kickstarter with a goal of $15,500. The campaign closed on August 22, 2013, having successfully raised $18,517. [2] Decker has cited John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden as inspiration for elements of the film, though David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter has compared the visuals of the film to the works of Terrence Malick. [3] The visual style continues some of the experimental camera techniques Decker and cinematographer Ashley Connor had used in their previous collaboration, Butter on the Latch , including some shots that were recorded without a lens on the camera. [4]



In September 2014, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely was picked up for theatrical and VOD distribution by Cinelicious Pics along with Decker's 2013 film Butter on the Latch with a release set for November 2014. [5] [6] The films are now available on iTunes, Fandor, Amazon and Vimeo-on-Demand in the US, on Amazon and iTunes in the UK and on VOD in Italy.


Critical response

Thou Wast Mild and Lovely received a positive response from critics. Richard Brody of The New Yorker highly praised the film, saying "Like most classic stories, this one is simple, but its realization is so surprising in its details, so original in its visual invention, as to make most other movies seem shot by the numbers." and "Normally it would be an insult to say that a movie that runs a mere hour and a quarter feels as if it were much longer, but here it’s both accurate and high praise: vast realms of emotional experience are condensed into the movie’s brief span." [7] In a subsequent piece for The New Yorker, Brody named Thou Wast Mild and Lovely the second best film of 2014, just behind Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel . Brody also listed Robert Longstreet as "Best Supporting Actor"; Ashley Connor in "Best Cinematography". Decker's other 2014 film, Butter on the Latch , also made the Brody's top ten, clocking in at tenth place. [8] Subsequent to its Berlinale 2014 premiere, Peter Knegt of Indiewire called Thou Wast Mild and Lovely "The talk of the Berlin International Film Festival… with tense eroticism and experimental, largely free-form filmmaking". [9] Josh Slater-Williams of Sound on Sight called it "one of the strongest, most striking American Gothic works of recent memory." [10] In his review of the film, Eric Kohn of Indiewire gave the film a B+ rating and commented, "Its labyrinthine characteristics suggest the unholy marriage of Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch" and "Decker concocts a wholly enveloping vision of isolation told with a grimly poetic style that wanders all over the place but never stops playing by its own eerie rulebook." [11] Jenni Miller of The A.V. Club moderately praised the film and described Sophie Traub's Sarah as "fascinating", despite noting "There are a few too many experimental flourishes to effectively build the sort of tension that’s necessary to really make the ending pay off." [12] Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times gave the film a more mixed review, noting "The setup's clichés grow harder to ignore, despite a welcome mischievous streak and some bucolic imagery." [13] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter stated, "It's not uninteresting but too self-consciously arty to rank Decker as a mature filmmaking voice." [3]


Thou Wast Mild and Lovely premiered in the U.S. at the Sarasota Film Festival, and internationally at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival in the Forum section. It has also played at the AFI Fest, the BFI London Film Festival, the Torino Film Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Gothenburg Film Festival, the Athens International Film Festival, the Denver Film Festival, the Dallas VideoFest, the Flyway Film Festival, the Sidewalk Film Festival, the Fantasia International Film Festival, the Galway Film Fleadh, the BAMcinemFest and the Imagine Film Festival in the Netherlands.

The film was nominated for the FIPRESCI prize at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, and has won awards on the festival circuit, including the Dallas VideoFest Winner 2014: Best Narrative Feature, Sarasota Film Festival 2014 Winner: Independent Visions Grand Prize & Tangerine Entertainment's Juice Award, Flyway Film Festival 2014: Breakout Filmmaker, Indie Memphis Film Festival 2014: Craig Brewer Emerging Filmmaker Award. It was acquired by Cinelicious Pics in fall of 2014.

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  2. "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely". Kickstarter . Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  3. 1 2 Rooney, David (February 6, 2014). "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely: Berlin Review". The Hollywood Reporter . Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  4. O'Falt, Chris (23 August 2018). "'Madeline's Madeline': Why the Dreamy Movie's Surreal Imagery Took Six Years and Many Experiments to Get Right". Indiewire. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  5. Cipriani, Casey (September 5, 2014). "Cinelicious Pics Acquires Two Raunchy Josephine Decker Films". Indiewire . Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  6. Horst, Carole (September 5, 2014). "Josephine Decker's 'Butter' and 'Lovely' Bought by Cinelicious". Variety . Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  7. Brody, Richard (February 13, 2014). "Pay Attention to Josephine Decker". The New Yorker . Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  8. Brody, Richard (December 11, 2014). "The Best Movies of 2014". The New Yorker . Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  9. Knegt, Peter (February 11, 2014). "Berlinale Breakout: Josephine Decker On Her Much Discussed Festival Double Feature". Indiewire . Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  10. Slater-Williams, Josh (October 23, 2014). "LFF 2014: 'Thou Wast Mild and Lovely' is wild and creepy". Sound on Sight . Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  11. Kohn, Eric (February 6, 2014). "Berlin Review: Sexual Depravity Takes On Nightmarish Proportions In Josephine Decker's 'Thou Wast Mild and Lovely,' Starring Joe Swanberg". Indiewire . Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  12. Miller, Jenni (November 13, 2014). "Butter On The Latch and Thou Wast Mild And Lovely make an eerie double feature". The A.V. Club . Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  13. Rapold, Nicolas (November 13, 2014). "'Butter on the Latch' and 'Thou Wast Mild & Lovely' Open". The New York Times . Retrieved December 12, 2014.