10 April 2010 | cheryllynecox-1
Timely Portrait of Small Town, USA
Kevin and CJ, the main characters of "Nonames", have been together for a long time, especially for their 20-something years. They are as committed to each other as they are to the crumbling Wisconsin mill town in which they live. The Mill is letting people go, other businesses tumble, and people leave for other opportunities. Kevin and CJ stay for each other, and also stay for their like-minded friends. Their rowdy crowd drinks, smokes, and cavorts as though they are about to be hacked to death in a slasher film.
Sound depressing. It is. It's also, from what I've observed, not too different from what has been happening throughout small towns all over our heartland for the last three years (and counting). When times are tough, survivors learn to lean on one-another. The characters that surround CJ and Kevin, aren't ever as completely developed as our young lovers (with a few exceptions to be noted later) but friendship and affection aren't always based on shared intimacies. Indeed, in "Nonames" comraderie seems to be based on a mutual desire to escape reality rather than share or explore a deep awareness of self or community.
The production values in this film are solid and serve the narrative action from beginning to end. Cinematography was pretty straight forward without many tricks--clean and effective. I enjoyed the soundtrack and continued to root for CJ and Kevin throughout the film. I could tell that this project was deeply personal for writer and director Kathy Linboe. It must be difficult to edit a film that signifies real events and documents one's memory of a particular place and time. Still, overall, the film is largely satisfying even though I might have trimmed-off a good ten minutes or so. There were some confusing transitions and unclear connections that could be better explained. I hated one particular speech that reminded me of Richard Gere's "I got nowhere to go . . ." monologue in another movie.
Gillian Jacobs and James Badge Dale do not disappoint as our star-crossed lovers struggling against the odds to make something of their life in tandem. Their scenes together are alternately sweet, frustrating, or disturbing. Barry Corbin is right at home is this film as not just a potential employer, but also as a part of the hard scrabble community. His Ed does the best he can to help-out the young men in his community. Peter McCain does a nice job as Dave, a young dad and bartender who seems to be more stable than his friends. Jack, portrayed by Allen Hamilton, is also a small but powerful role.
I admire many things about "Nonames", and appreciate its dark portrait of deteriorating rural communities. The film celebrates loyalty and friendship no matter how big your opponent is, or how stupid your friends might be. It also reminds us of the lingering power of place and how it continues to inform and influence character for the rest of one's life.