Saturday, December 3, 2011

Things I Don't Understand

Directed (written & produced) by David Spaltro,  Embrace The Fall, 2011. Starring Molly Ryman, Aaron Mathias, Grace Folsom and Lisa Eichhorn

Genre: Drama

Question: How many of you ponder the meaning of it all and what happens to you after you die? Yep, that's what I thought. Anyone got any answers they would like to share?

I just finished a screener for Things I Don't Understand by independent film-maker David Spaltro. Unfortunately this is not available in the theatre or for rent yet. Hopefully, this film will be in many festivals so others have an opportunity to view it. I will go into a little further detail than I normally do so you can fully understand what the film-maker created.

This is Spaltro's 2nd film and I think he took on a rather ambitious theme with this one: Wondering what's the point of everything, why do people die and what happens to them afterwards, or at least that is how it started out. However, I think he decided to really tell a story of a woman searching for love and learning how to love especially when things that matter to her go away and despite the fact that people didn't treat her as she deserved (parental issues).

Things I Don't Understand starts off with a grad student, Violet Kubelick, who is studying near-death experiences for her thesis. Violet is a  brilliant woman who feels she doesn't deserve to be loved due to her upbringing. However, while doing her research she decides to see if what people were saying was true about the bright light and having an overwhelming feeling of being loved by attempting suicide. Perhaps she thought it was her only option to feel loved. Fortunately her attempt fails but her search for love intensifies.

Sprinkled throughout the film, Violet visits with a therapist after her suicide attempt (and I think she may be her professor as well) and some of the best dialogue of the film was exchanged during these sessions - mostly by Violet, with snarky comebacks. Spaltro does have away with getting to the point of a moment and really delivering words that make you sit up and think. That was a treat for me - I am always on the lookout for great dialogue and I found some here.

The rest of the movie has Violet befriending a young woman, Sara, who is terminally ill and in hospice care while interviewing her for her thesis. She is the one who really has the right to be angry because her life is ending just as it was beginning but she has accepted her fate. Violet takes notice but soon becomes involved with a man who is probably too damaged to get close to, all while her two flighty artist roommates and she are being evicted from their apartment and have no means to stay or another place to go. All of her self-doubt mixed in with life's daily stresses, Violet becomes overwhelmed yet again but takes a different path that leads her to the answers she's been seeking and finally acceptance.

Spaltro's vision to find the final message was a surprise and a delight; and I really liked how he wrapped it all up in the end with the main character's thesis. That I won't give away because I thought that was the most brilliant part of the whole movie. I enjoyed most of the performances - specifically the actress who played Violet, Molly Ryman.

So take notice Hollywood. David Spaltro has the right stuff to go on to become a great film-maker. Enjoy Things I Don't Understand.

My favorite thing: The dialogue.

My least favorite: A little too much of other characters' dilemmas. Seemed a little unnecessary.

Rating: unknown
Length: 109 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

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