A comet passes overhead whilst a group of friends have a dinner party and strange events ensue.
I knew NOTHING with a capital ‘NOTHING’ about this film. A friend recommended it to me and it’s always exciting when I come across a film I haven’t heard. It’s like a wrapped present that you have no clue as to what it contains. This enhanced the experience for me. The story literally unfolding itself as it plays out. The premise is so huge that it would be a crime for me to repeat it here. Far better for you to go through it yourselves.
I shall give you the option of pausing this email until you have seen the film in order for you to have a similar experience to me, but if you don’t have the patience or the inclination to wait, read on.
It reminded me of a cross between Another Earth and Cube, low budget, high ambitions. I have yet to see Primer but have a feeling that these films share the same DNA. There was a touch of the Dogme 95’s in its low budget sensibilities. The seeming use of natural light and improvised dialogue adds a realism and intimacy to the proceedings. There is also an element of Festen here with the revealing of various past events that have big consequences for the characters involved.
Shot over five nights utilizing a bare bones crew this film achieves what most sci-fi films dream about. The chance to tell a tale that will puzzle and delight viewers taking them down alleys and paths that surprise and entertain. No big special effects here, purely big ideas, well realized. The actors were given notes each day that the others didn’t know about ensuring immediate and real reactions. Each actor didn’t really know each other before filming and managed to create three dimensional characters that felt real. The relationships between the characters are complicated, full of secrets and rife with a history.
Emily Baldoni plays Em, a beautiful ballet dancer with her own insecurities and questions. Maury Sterling is Kevin, Em’s boyfriend who wants to take the relationship to the next level. Nicholas Brendon (Buffy) plays Mike, one of the hosts and gets a peachy role exploring a character that is filled with his own personal demons. Lorene Scafaria is Lee, Mike’s partner. Hugo Armstrong is Hugh and Alex Manugian is Amir who get their own little story. Elizabeth Gracen is Beth and Lauren Maher is Laurie who both have secrets that will no doubt out. All the actors here show commitment and, for the most part give truthful non-showy performances.
The acting is improvised for the most part and works most of the time, each actor playing their position in the team and veering away from “look at me” student film type acting.
James Ward Byrkit makes his feature film debut directing and writing the screenplay and manages to create a brilliant, mind-bending science fiction film that asks big questions about quantum physics and alternate realities. He is a director to look out for. I wonder if he will be a director for hire or become a really interesting auteur. I hope it’s the latter.
This is one of those little gems that you’ll only hear about via a friend. I am that friend.
For a slice of Twilight Zone filmed in a Dogme style you could do yourself a favour and look it up.