It’s rare that I post reviews here that aren’t related to something Witchy or Pagan. But in an effort to use my blog as more of an over all place for sharing, and since I was so excited to see this movie and felt moved to write about it, I thought I’d just do it here. 🙂 It’s going to be hard to really say too much about this movie without giving away almost everything. So what I’m going to do is give a brief explanation of the plot, share one of the film’s trailers, and then I’m going to put a spoiler warning so you can stop there if you want or you can keep reading. I’ll just say this…it was a great movie and it was really weird.
The Plot…in general
The film tells the story of a group of four friends who all went to college together (two of whom have known each other since they were children). Each year they rent a place somewhere and spent a week together to spend time catching up and basically spending
a week not having to deal with the responsibilities of their grown up lives. They drink, they do drugs, they party…they reminisce and they remind themselves that there are reasons that they are all still friends, even if they aren’t able to be together all the time. But this year something is different. There is a foreboding that hangs over them since they all seem to have come this year while in the middle of deal with some serious life issue. All four men are 44 years old and all four are feeling what seems to be the crush of the real world on their shoulders. As the week wears on a secret that the four are bound by comes to the surface and things that might have seemed bad before become even worse.
The four friends are played by Thomas Jane (as Richard), Rob Lowe (as Johnathan), Jeremy Piven (as Ron), and Christian Mckay (as Tim). The movie is an independent, which you’re pretty well aware of throughout the film, and it did a tour of various film festivals this year with it’s premier at Sundance in January. It’s had a lot of mixed reviews from viewers and critics. It’s not your average film. It’s dark, it’s very sad, it’s depressing…but gripping. It is currently available through OnDemand in their “See It Before It’s In Theaters” series but will be in select theaters in December.
Here’s the trailer.
It really is difficult to say much about this movie without giving away many of its secrets. So from here on I’ll be talking freely about the movie…you have been warned!
So let’s set the stage with the characters. Richard is a failed author who has become a high school English teacher (we later found out that he had a novel published but because he wasn’t a “cynical artist” he never caught on). We never really get the heart of Ron’s situation except that we know he’s an equities trader who is about to be indicted in something involving stealing from his clients. Johnathan is a doctor who we know in the first few minutes of the film is corrupt but we find out later just how bad it’s gotten as we find out he’s taking cash from people for prescriptions. And then there’s Tim; he’s a bit of a mystery and we never really learn much about him except that he was apparently responsible for the death of someone through a car accident (honestly I never caught if it was his wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend but it was that type of person). That whole thing, which really is critical to explain him and and he’s state of mind but it was very glossed over.
As they get together Tim is clearly distraught. He wants to talk to someone, anyone. He arrives at the rental house in Big Sur second only to Richard. When he get’s there Richard already has a tray of cocaine out and he’s drinking and urging Tim, who’s also celebrating a birthday on this vacation, to being numbing his pains, but Tim wants to talk. Richard quickly brushes that off and it’s clear to Tim pretty quickly that what he’s looking for from his friends isn’t going to happen.
The first 45 minutes or so of the movie is party, party, party. Lots of things are revealed through the discussions the guys have each night as they drink and get high. It becomes very clear that the only time any of them are able to really relate to each other is when there are drugs and booze being passed around. When it’s not party time they seem to spend most of their time in separate rooms in the house either hiding or sleeping it off. This becomes too much for Tim to handle as the guilt of the anniversary of the death of the person he’s mourning for starts to weigh on him. One night after Richard invites a bartender and her friends back to the house to party, Tim ends up having a very weird threesome (lots of crying going on there) with a girl and a guy (the girl was played by Sasha Grey who was only in the movie for about 10 minutes but everyone was making such a big deal about her being in this).
This ends up pushing him over the edge when he starts to sober up. Tim’s been walking about with a piece of paper in his pocket all week. We never really know what it is…in fact we don’t ever FULLY know what’s on the paper until the VERY END of the movie right before the credits role. But after going into the bathroom and shower and shaving off his beard, Tim ends up looking at the note some more during this process and, in the end, hangs himself in the shower. When he’s found by the guys in the morning this is where everything begins to unravel more than it already had been. As it turns out, while in college, the four agreed to a suicide pact where, if 25 years from that time they have changed and not become who they wanted to be (roughly) then they would all end their lives.
Ron, even though he’s about to deal with some life altering events because of his crooked business deals, is the first to reject this idea while Richard and Johnathan find themselves feeling almost obligated to consider it and follow through. Ron decides to leave after the other two refuse to call the police about Tim but in a moment of panic about what he’s running back to at home, he returns, and things just become more and more sad, scary, and depressing from there as the three try to decide what to do next.
So, did I like it? Should you see it?
These are tough questions to answer. Did I like it? Yeah…I think I did. It was really hard to watch for a lot of reasons. The movie is really a 2 1/2 hour melt down that is just sad and hard to watch. Everyone has something to lose but greed and selfishness end up being the only driving factors for anyone of these guys. The film is directed by Mark Pellington who’s background is in music videos, something that is clearly obvious from the way the movie is filmed and presented. It’s visually interesting and annoying all at the same time.
The acting is pretty good. I’m a big fan of Rob Lowe and most people that know me know one of my big celebrity crushes is Jeremy Piven (seriously, he can sit and read a soup can and I’ll watch it). Rob Lowe is absolutely fantastic but I kept thinking I was seeing a slightly more sedate Ari Gold when it came to Jeremy Piven (Piven’s character on “Entourage”). Christian Mckay is good and I enjoyed Thomas Jane though I’m not much of a fan of his (I’m sorry, but I absolutely hate “Hung”). The music in the movie is fantastic and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes with the soundtrack which comes out in December.
I would recommend this movie if you like independent film but also if you enjoy psychological thrillers. It’s not the prefect movie, but it’s not terrible, and it has some moments that really do get you. It’s an emotionally draining movie with all that’s going on, but it’s an interesting telling of a storyline that’s been done before.
I give it…