By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: They like to talk.
Seven people who were friends during college reunite ten years after having been arrested while on their way to a demonstration of the Vietnam War. Mike and Katie (Bruce MacDonald, Maggie Renzi) are the hosts and live together while also both being school teachers. J.T. (Adam LeFevre) is a struggling musician looking to finally take a stab at the big time by moving to L.A. Irene (Jean Passanante) is a speech writer for a conservative politician who brings along her new boyfriend Chip (Gordon Clapp) while Maura (Karen Trott) has just broken up with her boyfriend Jeff (Mark Arnott) and starts a fling with J.T. only to have Jeff reappear and wanting to start the old relationship back up.
This film is noted as being the forerunner of the independent film movement. It was made on a budget of less than $60,000, but first time director John Sayles manages to camouflage it well. The variety of shots and camera angles never allow you to realize that the whole thing was done in one location, a ski lodge that he managed to rent out for the summer at a low rate. The dialogue has a great conversational quality and the characters are nicely textured and multi-dimensional making it seem like the camera is capturing an actual reunion. The acting, which was mainly done by performers who had never appeared in a film before is equally good with my favorite being Sayles himself who appears as the character Howie who has one really good scene where he warns his friend Mike to think ‘long and hard’ about getting married while his wife stands behind him looking none too happy hearing him say it.
The biggest problem is that not enough happens. There’s a lot of talking, but story wise it is almost plotless. The few action segments deals with the men playing a rough game of basketball and also a trip to a river bed where they go skinny dipping to the background music of yodeling, but these scenes tend to meander while adding little to the character development.
It’s nice seeing a movie that attacks gender stereotypes by having the woman being the one to change a flat tire as well as having all the nudity shown being that of the men and not the ladies. There are also a few touching moments where Irene is willing to give J.T. a significant amount of money to help him in his struggling career without expecting any payment back, but in the end it all goes nowhere. The characters are just too genteel, which fails to create any type of interesting drama. I was more intrigued with exploring what these people were like in college and how they had changed after entering the adult world, but the film barely touches on that, which to me made it boring and empty.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: April 11, 1980
Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes
Director: John Sayles
Studio: Salsipuedes Productions
Available: VHS, DVD, Hulu
Pingback: The Big Chill (1983) | Scopophilia