Friday, October 14, 2011

A Little Closer

A LITTLE CLOSER – video                  D                  
USA  (73 mi)  2011  d:  Matt Petock                Official site

This is an obnoxious little film where the viewer keeps waiting for something interesting to happen, but it never does.  Made in the early David Gordon Green style, but without a hint of his poetry or artistry, as this is simply a bad example of the copycat movie, a director who thinks he’s on to something, but he’s not.  This is just a dull film about a loathsome family without a single scintillating moment, where the hand-held camerawork is often out of focus simply due to excessive movement, or being too close to a subject, or dimly lit, creating an annoying look to the movie, often excessively dark.  Set in an economically depressed, rural area of Virginia, a single mom (Sayra Player) is overworked and largely out of the picture in the daily lives of her two rambunctious sons, 15-year old Marc (Parker Lutz) who cleans the cars in the lot of a car business, and 11-year old Stephen (Eric Baskerville) who is forced to attend summer school due to his inability to focus in school.  These two brothers make complete asses of themselves in the opening minutes, but so does the director in thinking this is somehow revelatory, yet this writer/director pulls out every cliché in the book, where nothing surprising, or for that matter interesting, ever happens.

Instead this is painting by the numbers, where each character has their own individual personal crisis.  Mom sits home sipping wine and smoking weed but has no social life, so she’s forced to attend social mixers at a local recreational center where two or three couples dance and everyone else just stands around sipping beverages, which is about as interesting as watching paint dry, as nothing happens.  Marc finds a socially isolated, dull, and naïve girl he likes, Joanna (Catherine Andre), but picks her largely so he can take advantage of her, while Stephen is actually attracted to his black teacher Ms. Moss (Stephanie Parrott), peeping through a window at her home in various states of undress.  Actually Ms. Moss is the one truly appealing character in the movie, but the director doesn’t seem to know that, as he doesn’t care enough about her to leave her in the story, but simply uses her as he wishes before dropping her midway through, as if she doesn't matter.  Instead, one by one, each of the three family members pursues their own sexual awakening, suggesting this is the road to fulfillment, except they bring to the experience the boredom and emotional emptiness of their own lives.  Nothing surprising there.  And for those who think this director knows what to do shooting a couple on a dance floor in a single take, might I remind people of Valeska Grisebach’s BE MY STAR (2001), a near wordless, unsentimentalized film that excels exactly where this one doesn’t, in communicating the aching loneliness that exists between hopelessly attracted couples who can’t express what they feel, further isolating them even from themselves.    

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