Director Aaron Katz, who was born in Portland, OR, returned to his hometown to film this mystery / drama / Mumblecore film. Mumblecore is a term used to describe a genre of indie film, that began about a decade ago, that features non-professional actors (usually in their twenties) in extremely low budget productions about relationships with dialogue heavy improvised scripts. Katz’s previous feature films (’DANCE PARTY USA’ and ‘QUIET CITY’) were both critically acclaimed Mumblecore films. This one tells the story of a man who moves back to Portland, and into an apartment with his sister, and becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to his ex-girlfriend when she goes missing. It stars Cris Lankenau (who’s only other acting credit is Katz’s ‘QUIET CITY’), Trieste Kelly Dunn, Paul Castillo and Robyn Rikoon. The film is a great example of how much you can do with very little.
Lankenau stars as Doug, a former forensic science student, who drops out of school in Chicago and moves back home to Portland, and in with his sister Gail (Dunn). He gets a job at an ice factory and befriends a co-worker named Carlos (Castillo) who’s also a part time DJ. His ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Rikoon), follows him into town on a supposed visit and then goes missing. Doug is a big ‘Sherlock Holmes’ fan and finally gets a chance to put his fascination and education to the test. He enlists the help of both Carlos and Gail in discovering Rachel’s whereabouts. This gives him more of a chance to bond with his estranged sister.
The movie is extremely and very deliberately slow-paced. It’s very aimless at times and features several dialogue scenes that do very little to advance the development of the characters and absolutely nothing to propel the story line. It takes a good 37 minutes (of an hour and 37 minute movie) to get to the film’s plot. This didn’t bother me. While it wasn’t exciting or involving it also wasn’t boring. Watching this film is no less interesting or entertaining than hanging out with a group of friends, really. When something does finally happen it’s worth the wait too. There’s no action or sex or anything really fascinating, when you think about it, but it’s entertaining all the same. That’s thanks in large part to Katz’s directing, an extraordinary and memorable score (by Keegan DeWitt, who also worked on Katz’s other films) and some great performances. Three of the four leads were all good screen presences I thought. I didn’t care much for Rikoon, she did have the smallest part but even when she was on screen she wasn’t very interesting. Dunn is beautiful and should have no problem continuing to find film offers, Castillo was very natural and likable and Lankenau was especially good in my opinion. He reminded me a lot of Ryan Reynolds in the way he talked and sounded. He should have no problem finding more work as well. The film is especially impressive when you think about the emotions and interests it provokes by doing almost nothing. I couldn’t find a listing of the budget to this film but Katz’s previous two films both reportedly cost between 2 and 3 thousand dollars. I can’t imagine this one costing much more. All in all I thought the movie was pretty interesting and entertaining. It’s sure to bore some while highly amusing others.