A young psychologist with a pregnant wife at home struggles financially to build his practice. He's also pulling away from her, maybe from the financial stress, maybe from the responsibility of looming fatherhood. When he's not killing time at the office he's playing basketball with his best friend, whose loss of an eye in some sort of classroom bombing (works as a teacher) apparently makes him wise beyond his years.
The film, while technically well produced in terms of visuals quality and sound has many a flaw. Almost all of them has to do with having the presentation possessing the relative subtlety of a shovel hitting you repeatedly in the face, wherein as a courtesy your attacker tells you that each blow is coming before delivering it. For a film that is clearly intended to engage the brain of the viewer (an admirable goal) it demonstrates an alarming distrust regarding allowing the audience to think for themselves. The approach is along the lines of, "anything worth mentioning is worth saying 3-4 times over in different ways" As if someone took the over simplified view of presentations, "Tell the audience what you're going to say, say it; then tell them what you've said" and used it as a guide to film making. Just some of the examples include:
- From the opening pounding emphasis music announcing that THIS IS A SERIOUS FILM. Please, if you're making a film think twice before introducing the pounding drums as each name of the cast appears on screen.
- An opening shot of the doctor's office that slowly and obviously pans across all the "important" items we need to know about his interests. The picture of Tesla, Einstein, the copy of A Brief History of Time. That would have been enough - did we really need to then fix a holding shot in closeup of each of the items for an additional 5+ seconds to drive the point home again that we need to observe these books?
- Don't even get me started about the number of visual suggestions that the doctor's wife might be pregnant. If you somehow missed the copy of "what to expect when you're expecting" in the above mentioned opening shot AND the camera's unhealthy fascination with her stroking her obviously pregnant midsection during the first half of the film then I suspect you lack the mental horsepower to purchase a ticket to the film in the first place.
- The music, my lord the music... The film had the need to ensure you knew exactly what emotion was expected by playing something over almost every conversation. It was at a level that would make a Mexican soap opera blush.
- Over the top dialog mentioning every possible cliche that could fit from Pandora's Box to Icharus and then far far beyond. The actor's presentation was probably constrained by the dialog though I would say that had more of a stage feel than what we've come to expect on the big screen. Which does make me wonder if the whole endeavor would work much better on a stage than on film.
On the positive side the director and crew were very positive and entertaining at the screening I saw. The director in particular dealt with a few technical glitches as a true mensch - even tossing out concession candy to keep folks in a positive spirit. So it was a fun and memorable screening for me. Just not necessarily in the ideal way. Overall I'd put this one in roughly the category as Some Day Like Rain from a few years back. A screening that will stick in my memory more for the scope of the attempt than the actual result. Given that I can't really recommend giving up another SIFF screening for it.
One final note there's absolutely nothing wrong with NW film inherently. The last two films by Lynn Shelton made my top of fest lists each year. And there are definitely other positive examples (for instance I've repeatedly heard good things about Bass Ackwards). It's just that sometimes it feels the bar is lower for local filmmakers getting into SIFF so the risk of seeing a true dud is higher. Not that this sort of local film issue is any different at other festivals I've been to. Just something one should keep in mind.
I've got some pics of the cast after the film I'll try to come back and add later.