Comments on watching and making films.

Monday, February 25, 2013

All The Light In The Sky

No Budge, Kentucker Audley's website dedicated to giving smaller, independent films an opportunity to gain an internet signal boost that they might not otherwise gain by just self releasing on YouTube or Vimeo, recently hosted a "secret" (and limited time) screening of Joe Swanberg's new feature All The Light In The Sky. I had a chance to see the film, and I have to say, I truly feel like it is Swanberg's most accomplished film yet. I am putting it on my list of favorites of his, alongside Hannah Takes The Stairs and Nights and Weekends. 

The film stars Jane Adams as Marie, an aging actress, who is visited by her niece, Faye, played by Sophia Takal. During their visit, Marie see's the spark of youth she is missing, while Faye revels in the spoils of war that only someone who has been around long enough to achieve these things might have. Kent Osborne makes an appearance as a friend of a friend of Faye's, who ends up getting involved with Marie. Larry Fessenden also pops up in a great performance as Rusty, Marie's neighbor and surfing partner.

Moments are the key to most Swanberg films. You're not looking to get the typical Hollywood formula out of these films, and, if you are, you'll be leaving frustrated. Moments like Marie's conversation with her agent, in which she slowly gives into the idea of an extremely low budgeted film in order to just be doing something, or Faye's fear of being caught by Marie if she shows some skin to her boyfriend over Skype. There's an amazing moment with Marie and Dan (Osborne), where they're trying to figure out whether it feels right to kiss. All of these moments, and some pretty gorgeous cinematography, add up to another great piece by Swanberg. Adams perfectly encompasses that late thirties/early forties malaise of actors who have given up a traditional family structure to further their career, and the emptiness and loneliness that can breed when that career slows (which is natural for almost any working actor short of the 1% superstars).

I wish we would have had more time with Faye. It felt like her character could have been explored more and  issues could have been addressed from the perspective of a younger character, but, ultimately, this is Marie's film, and Adams commands the screen in a way that, as a viewer, you don't question that.

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