Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: How I Got Lost

I should preface this review by admitting that I don't generally watch straight up dramatic movies with contemporary settings, so you should bear that in mind, as I am more into genre film. I also gave myself a week to really think about what I had seen so I could put it in proper perspective.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was offered a screener of How I Got Lost from director Joe Leonard, who was seeking reviews to coincide with its recent DVD release.

But before I agreed, I watched the trailer and looked through some other materials about it, and discovered that it had made the cut for a number of film festivals, so I was intrigued. It isn't every day that I am offered the chance to screen a film with that pedigree, so I went into this experience with a lot of enthusiasm. I also discovered that Leonard was remaking an earlier short film he had made by the same name, so I had high expectations.

The most succinct way I can summarize this movie is as follows: two 20-something men, Jake and Andrew, in post-9/11 New York undertake a journey to Ohio for the funeral of Jake's estranged father. There are a few twists and a couple of interludes that I am not discussing mind you, but I think that is as close to a synopsis as I can give the film without giving to much away.

For the most part, I don't have any real complaints about the movie. The casting was good, featuring people who while I may not have been able to put a name to them before this film, were nonetheless recognizable (particularly Aaron Stanford and the lovely Rosemarie DeWitt), and the dialogue was believable, as was its delivery.

One particular sequence stayed with me from my viewing however. The main characters run out of gas during their road trip, in Pennsylvania and they meet a woman working at a gas station who, to me at least, is utterly fascinating, despite the fact that she is on screen for 3 or 4 minutes at most. I would be interested in watching a movie about her, as even in from that brief encounter.

It is also worth mentioning the excellent score work of Kaki King, which at times provided the perfect accent to scenes without being too heavy.

The plot unfolded in ways which were surprising given some of the tropes it seemingly explored. It is a road movie, a rite of passage and a few other things thrown into one package, and that is definitely a strength for the film.

But for all those pluses, I do have a minor quibble however. At times the pacing felt a little too slow for my tastes, and given the fact that it is a relatively short movie at 87 minutes, that could be a problem. There were a few points where I was starting to lose interest, and I think in the end, I just wanted a few more narrative elements thrown into the mix towards the end to keep me invested in the whole film.

Now, Joe Leonard has done quite a few different things in the industry, so he has a variety of experiences. I think his current gig as an editor for the show Glee is likely the one that would be of most interest for you my readers, but looking over his imdb profile, he has really gotten his feet wet in a lot of different areas on the production side of things, so clearly he is qualified to write and direct a feature length film, and for a first effort at a longer length feature, it is pretty good, and I do look forward to seeing his next full length film.


John said...

I used to get offered free books for reviews, but it was never worth the time that I put in it for books that I usually would never otherwise read.

I never got a movie, though. It must be your connections to the filmworld elite.

MC said...

If it was between writing for one of the biggest blogs out there and getting review copies, I'd choose the exposure any day of the week.