Reel Affirmations 2005
Review by Randy Shulman
Rating: (5 out of 5)
Sunday, 10/16/2005, 8:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Cecile Goldman Theater at the DCJCC
THIS IS WHY we go to film festivals — to unearth a rare gem like Mom. Directed by Erin Greenwell, winner of the 2003 Reel Affirmations Plant A Seed grant, this is a terrific little film that’s relayed on an intimate, human scale and laced with wonderful grace notes that combine to pay off in an ending that leaves you grinning ear-to-ear.
Emily Burton plays Kelly, a market researcher with aspirations of being a TV news field reporter. She’s shipped off to Little Hope to gather data for her marketing firm, accompanied by Linda (Julie Goldman), a butch, talkative cameraperson who has aspirations of her own (she wants to be a tattoo artist). Their adventure together has its ups and downs — when the local hotel runs out of rooms, they’re required to stay at a Youth Hostel, presided over by a snarling manager (pitch-perfect Mary C. Matthews) — but when all is said and done, they learn a few things about themselves and each other that helps them gain a greater perspective about life.
”What’s your best day ever?” asks the ceaselessly inquisitive Linda of Kelly.
”I’ve never had a best day,” comes the reply, ”because I always wanted to be someplace better.”
Great films don’t just happen — they are often created out of passion, talent and vision. Greenwell has so much passion, talent and vision to spare, she should bottle it and sell it off the shelf to her colleagues. She has a solid crew working with her, including director of photography George Su, who, using digital video, creates a bright, sunny, lush look for Mom.
Though still a little rough in spots, Mom‘s overall pacing is spot on, its script witty, natural and intelligent, and the performances Greenwell coaxes from her mostly female cast are exceptional. Goldman is a revelation — warm, funny, poignant. And Burton makes the insufferably high-strung Kelly a sympathetic character.
This film is a first step for Greenwell — but it’s one hell of a confident step. With any luck it will lead to a long and fruitful road of films that, like Mom, entertain and delight while gently touching our hearts.