Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I do not own the above picture. Copyright Brandi Brothers Productions. All Rights Reserved.
The worst thing a movie can do is not try. Not try to be anything other than a 100 minute piece of fleeting entertainment that you may laugh at once or twice and tell your friends about just how “good” it is. Then said friend sees the movie & screams at their friend “IDENTITY THIEF is awful!”
But I digress. What is a movie tries and fails miserably? And by miserably, I mean there is nothing positive to say about the movie that would be visible to the average moviegoer. A movie where the only element worth writing home about may be non-existent to any human besides yours truly.
LIE WITH ME is a small movie from the twin brother team of Jamison & Jason Brandi. The film, their second full-length feature, follows Carla (Younger), a prostitute whose specialty in the world’s oldest profession is with gentlemen in wheelchairs, as she returns home with her significant other Ian (McEvoy). Back home, there’s crippled father Stan (Gordon), jealous younger sister Susan & terminally ill mother Deanna (Strassman). But it’s the fifth family member who has run of the house: revulsion.
LIE WITH ME starts interesting enough but quickly, very quickly, the film falls apart at the seams. First, I can’t help but feel the screenplay is only 60% finished. There are scenes where we are just dropped in the middle of conversations and are given no opportunity to catch up. Or, if we do, the scenes abruptly end. Plus, some of the dialogue in the serious scenes is cringe-worthy. A fight between two people where one person says the same thing three or four times in a non-comedy is the definition of cringe-worthy.
In addition, the boyfriend/fiancé character is, I guess, supposed to be us. At least, I think he represents us when he’s holding his tiny digital camera for some documentary he never gets into detail about. He just doesn’t really need to be there the whole time. The family itself is interesting but the mother is wasted. The movie starts (I assume, since it’s never really mentioned in the movie that’s why Carla goes home) because Deanna is dying. What she’s dying of isn’t important, or so say the filmmakers. But we also don’t get a scene between the three women. Even if they had no relationship, you’d think there would be something that gets either daughter in her bedroom before the rising action scene. But we get nothing and the mother just feels useless too. The sisters' hate/love relationship is fairly effective and their relationship to their father is the driving force of the movie.
While the Brothers Brandi did put maximum effort into the making of the film, on a technical level, the movie is a mess sometimes. You can have the most professional, affordable cameras; but if you can’t place them at logical or interesting angles, they’re worthless. Most shots come from low angles with the camera tilted up. They could be showing us what the wheelchair-bound father sees but the camera is usually too low to be that way and why in the world would we want to see the world from the perspective of that despicable human being. Plus, serious emotional moments are amplified by jump cuts. Very distracting. But worse of all is the sound. You can hear the points where the dialogue was cut during the editing process. Unbelievably distracting.
I get the sense that I know where the Brandi twins wanted to go with this: a serious dysfunctional family drama. But at 84-ish minutes, there isn’t enough time to tell that story. There is something there, begging to get out. But with a half-finished screenplay, a broken tripod and high school film class quality sound, it appears trapped. Just like Carla.