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|See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 10.Mar.19|
Review by Rich Cline |
A comedy about an annoying loser, directed and cowritten by lead actor Eden Marryshow, this choppy, low-budget film bases its humour on painful awkwardness, rarely eliciting a smile. Both the movie and Marryshow have a certain clumsy charm, but the character's unlikeability is simply overpowering. It's hard to know what kind of audience will enjoy this film, aside perhaps from inebriated young men.
"I want to want to try harder," Bruce says as he breaks up with Theresa (Goto) before immediately making a move on Caroline (Velez). An unapologetic jerk, Bruce doesn't have a job or bank account, claiming that he's writing a script. When his best pal Greg (Tottenham) moves out of their Manhattan apartment, Bruce advertises for a hot female flatmate, and Keira (Chester) moves in. She quickly cuts through his bravado, but fails to see what an idiot he is. And he suddenly starts acting like a loved-up sweetheart.
Bruce is such a lying, leering misogynist that his moments of sensitivity ring false. It's difficult to think that he maintains friendships with either Greg or his buddy Trevor (Nunez), that his parents (Pope and Thomas) continue bailing him out, or that any woman spends more than one night with him. His transformation into cuddly boyfriend is just ludicrous. But then, pretty much everything in this movie is difficult to believe.
The film's tone is so broad that performances seem understated. Still, there's virtually no space for subtlety, especially with characters that are so inconsistent. Chester adds some texture to her thankless role, which like everyone else's veers wildly from scene to scene. If Marryshow had grounded Bruce with just one personality, there might have been some kick to his performance, but he seems to be playing a different role in each sequence: loud and obnoxious, then sweet and caring, then sex-mad and callous, then shy and nervous.
In between his random, implausible nice-guy interludes, Bruce is simply too reprehensible to engage with. Actor-filmmaker Marryshow seems to have made this movie to showcase himself, and as an actor he definitely has some promise, with strong on-screen charisma. But this aggressively unlikeable comedy turns too dark and nasty, as Bruce burns one bridge after another on a self-fuelled downward spiral. And when he's at rock-bottom, there's a painfully trite message to lay on thickly. Like the rest of the film, this may be a nicely played scene, but it's also not quite the final insult.
Review by Rich Cline |
dir-scr Adam Morse
prd Adam Rose, Adam Morse
with Laurie Calvert, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Billy Zane, Sadie Frost, Felicity Gilbert, Cristian Solimeno, Sebastian Sabene, Katie Goldfinch, Abigail Johns, Ross Anderson, Jason Riddington, James Southward
release UK Jun.18 eiff
EDINBURGH FILM FEST
Sumptuously visual, this British drama creates some vivid moods as it playfully blurs the lines between dreams and reality. Remarkably, filmmaker Adam Morse is sight-impaired, but his inventive approach keeps the audience on the edge of the seat. So even if the plot ultimately begins to feel a little thin, this is a bracingly original film, packed with provocative moments and dark resonance.
In London, the introverted Zel (Calvert) is an easily distracted young man whose mother Georgina (Frost) worries as he starts a new job in the car park of an exclusive members' club. Zel rather likes Jasmine (Gilbert), who lives in his building, and eccentric neighbour Elliot (Zane) encourages him to go for it. He also teaches Zel how to dream lucidly, becoming aware of being in a dream, so he can experiment living without fear. As he's working on this, he meets Kat (Clark), the only person at the club who seems to notice him.
The club looks like something from Twin Peaks, which is perhaps the first clue that there's some dreamy wackiness afoot in this movie. Indeed, there's a lot of Lynchian trickery going on, and it's involving and visually visceral. The first time Zel realises that he's in a dream carries a terrific zing. Lucid dreaming helps Zel get the nerve to speak to Jasmine, but the swirl of events sends the subsequent events spiralling off in unexpected directions. Later, the dream sequences begin to feel a little repetitive, especially as they start shifting into nightmares.
Within this charged atmosphere, performances are remarkably understated. Calvert is a likeable lead, refreshingly quirky as he tries to keep his balance while everyone around him is an annoyance, especially his boss Theo, played as a charismatic thug by Solimeno. Zane effortlessly steals his scenes, bringing wit and sheer presence to his enigmatic role. Amid mostly figurative female roles, Clark adds some intrigue to Kat, even if the character ultimately begins to feel rather gimmicky.
The film is superbly shot by Michel Dierickx and tightly edited by Gabriel Foster Prior. Morse tells the story economically, cleverly using the lush visuals to deepen what is essentially a bare-bones idea. And while he has a lot of fun wrongfooting the audience with dreams within dreams and a story that doesn't generate much momentum, he's also actually saying some intriguing things about how tapping into our subconscious feelings might make our waking lives a little more like we wish they were.
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall
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