Take a Drink: whenever the camera creeps on a woman worse than your Uncle Phil.
Take a Drink: for hints at or mentions of prostitution.
Take a Drink: whenever Steve stares meaningfully
Take a Drink: whenever Park stares dumbly
Do a Shot: Oh, that’s where I know her from!
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
It can be really difficult reviewing independent films. Often they’re obviously made on a micro-budget, with inexperienced actors and directors, so criticizing these things feels a little like calling a 12 year old a shitty basketball player after seeing him play in an adult league.
Gareth Edwards is Like Mike in this analogy.
A Wife Alone is one such micro-indie. It’s a noirish film in which a young man, Park (Ashley Springer), and his wife Jaine (Genivieve Hudson-Price), visit his other business partner Steve’s (Sean Patrick Reilly) home, only to have this pleasant weekend spoiled when it becomes clear Jaine and Steve have some sort of sordid history together, and furthermore, that there might be more on Jaine’s mind than a nice trip with her new husband.
Director Justin Reichman is clearly going for a 70s thriller, Nicolas Roeg/John Cassavetes feel, and I’d say he nails it, tone-wise. The grainy filmstock look, small town Americana filming locations, and obvious care put in camera framing serve this aim beautifully, and the score brings it home.
Acting-wise, the women steal this one. Hudson-Price isn’t asked to do very much, but plays the beautiful cypher just fine, and I really hope the rest of the cast was paying attention to Catherine Curtin (who plays Steve’s wife), whose one small scene as she gazes on the reflection of her young rival in the mirror is far and away the best (and most understated) acting that occurs in the film.
The guys don’t fare as well. Sean Patrick Reilly has plenty of credits under his belt, but in this film looks like the bastard child of Robert DeNiro and Steve Carell, with the combined acting skills of present day DeNiro and Bruce Almighty-era Carell. He seems to think being villainous equals creeper stares, smirks, and bizarre line delivery (although his lines generally do him no favors).
Picture Michael Scott’s Casino impersonation.
At least he’s entertaining. Springer is an aggressive non-presence. Critiquing amateur action is like shooting fish in a barrel, but I’m sorry man, try to add an expression to your repertoire besides “blank” and “dumbfounded”.
I smell some Lochte in the family tree.
To be fair, the actors don’t get a lot to chew on in the script. In an effort to make everything sultry and mysterious, Reichman and cowriter Peter Friedman forget to include much of a plot. They withhold details and force the viewer to make their own connections just like a better screenwriter would, but it’s all too obvious and utterly lacking in the impact of shock value they appear to be after. True, a more direct approach would’ve made this plot feel like nothing at all, but… well, that’s kind of the point.
There’s a bit of a sleezy sexist vibe to this film, and it’s not just the lesbian “twist”. It’s primarily how the camera oozes over Hudson-Price. At times, it seems to be conveying Steve’s oily perspective, which is entirely apropos, but at the others the camera is still Michael Baying the poor girl when there’s clearly no viewpoint but the director’s.
A Wife Alone is far from a polished product, but it shows enough filmmaking talent to suggest these guys have a future in the business. Plus, it’s only an hour long…