2 December 2006 | nobbytatoes
a solid debut from Anderson
Stuck in a mediocre life, John Person persist with his dream of acting. Hanging on the hope of a call back from an audition, John is suddenly interrupted by his neighbour Neely. Neely asks for John's help in delivering a blue suitcase to a man called the Cowboy. The delivery point is the small desert town of Baker. Once there, John meets the strange locals; hotel manager Elron, bar maid Stella, the mysterious Ruthie. Complications arise when FBI agent Banks starts investigating John and his matters in Baker.
The Big Empty is a quirky debut for director/writer Steve Anderson. The Big Empty is a mash up of ideas and concepts; aliens and abductions, bowling, the mystery of the suitcase, meeting new people in the likeliest places, freeing once self from life's pit, a self discovery to your inner life and desires. To Anderson's credit, he stops this mash up from a complete muddle and strings it all together convincingly. Yet he has taken on to much all at once. The esoteric story, the kooky characters of the town are of centered to his canvas. He has so many ideas, but placing so many have hindered the film.
A positive and a negative of The Big Empty is its overly ambiguous tone. Questions are thrown at you, hints to their answer are slowly dug up, but so many questions are left unanswered. It's very opened ended, leaving room for much interpretation. Anderson wants you to think and uncover your own answers, which is pleasant to see from a film maker, audiences are too comfortable to have the answers given.
Acting all round is solid. Jon Favreau is strong if it not near his best. Daryl Hannah is great is as Stella. Kelsey Grammar occasionally hits over the top as Agent Banks. Rachael Leigh Cook is an absolute stand out as head strong and free spirit Ruthie. Sean Bean is also quite a stand out as the mysterious Cowboy.
While The Big Empty may not grasp everyones attention or be a wholly stunning film, it shows much talent in Anderson's skill as a film maker. A very solid debut.