8 September 2005 | bm_dryer
No truth, just a rough draft
This film was given to me by a friend for two reasons: 1)she loves Gale Harold as a result of his role on "Queer as Folk" and 2)like the protagonist Lilli Black, I paint. Consequently, I wanted to like this movie, I tried to like this movie... but all I could get into was the soundtrack. I wish I could've read the music credits at the end; maybe I need a bigger TV.
The good news: There are threads of a good (movie) story that exist in this film. The camera work is great, the atmosphere compelling, the music evocative. Larry Pine and Leslie Lyles (as the Wileys, Gale Harold's parents) turn in the most honest performances. I was disappointed at the lack of depth in their storyline; there was a real start of something there.
The bad news is simple: this film tries. There is a very contrived quality that overshadows the whole film because the audience (at least this one) recognizes that the director is trying to get us to feel something. The story was full of meaning and angst, with a very unfulfilling explanation of its origins. The viewer is not allowed to come to any conclusions on their own because the whole of the movie is leading them from symbol to indicator to cliché; in short, everything people resent about bad poetry.
With all due respect, this film (for me) is a perfect argument for keeping directors on one side of the camera. Yes, it works for a select few to act and direct, but those individuals (usually) have a clear idea of who the film should be about, and foresight enough to let someone else be the star. Maybe the director made the film she set out to make. It's just possible, however, that a singular focus on directing the film would've revealed the movie's true strength: the characters who made the protagonists who they were, not the angst they forced on the world as a result. The last twenty years of pop culture have given us our fill of angst and blame, but that wounded family dynamic will hit home almost every time. It needs to be honest, though, or it turns into a poor excuse for a life-long tantrum. And nobody wants to watch a movie about that.