On this visit, Rothbart arrives as the symbol of the average sheepish 30-something fumbling his way through love. The Fridge is screening the new documentary, “My Heart Is an Idiot.” And the imbecile heart is Rothbart’s.
Filmmaker David Meiklejohn was taping Found’s 2005 tour when he stumbled onto something else. “My Heart Is an Idiot” follows Rothbart as he tries desperately to figure out how to get the girl, but all the while Meiklejohn is digging up the ashes of previous relationships.
Rothbart took a break recently to talk about the movie and the process of growing up.
GOG: What’s going on in the movie?
DR: There’s a girl named Alex, who was one of my housemates in Ann Arbor . . . and then moved out to San Francisco. At the beginning of the movie, she’s leaving, and I’m hoping this barely beginning-to-bloom relationship is something that can grow and thrive. We’re on the road, and a lot of that, for me, is just the buildup to go and see her. . . I just began asking for advice, from my mom, from people like Ira Glass, who’s my boss at “This American Life.” I ran into Newt Gingrich, so I was asking him for advice. I think he’s been through some stuff, relationship-wise. But his response is so kind of thoughtful, and reflective, and has merit.
What were you looking for? Maybe I was just trying to come to some understanding about my own feelings. Relationships are hard to sift through. I think I’m somebody who feels things really powerfully. For me, I feel like a hostage to these really intense longings. Just because you see someone pouring drinks at a bar, . . . it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s someone you’re going to be in a relationship with.
Do you think that’s what you do? Yeah. I’m a fumbling mess at times.
Do you feel like other people can relate to this movie?
I really didn’t know how people would relate to it. I still feel too close to it to comprehend fully what’s going on. It’s really raw. I’m doing things in the movie that are really regretful, just really reckless with other people’s feelings. It’s hard to watch myself making mistakes. I’m really sad at certain parts in the film, but it’s worse when you see yourself causing unnecessary pain to other people.
How have you changed while making this movie? I think in life you repeat certain mistakes, because you can forget that you made them, or you can expunge from your mind that you made them. But to watch these things hundreds of times, as we’re editing and laying the narration over it, and having audiences come up to me and talk about the things they’ve experienced, I’ve learned a lot since the movie was made, and probably because this movie was made — things that should be common sense, like honesty, communication . . . now I’m gaining a little perspective on it.
“My Heart is an Idiot” screens at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Fridge, 516 8th St. SE (rear alley). 202-664-4151. www.thefridgedc.com . $8.