Saturday, April 30, 2016

IFFBoston 2016.01: The Hollars

First IFFBoston at the new apartment, which likely matters not a whit to anyone, but it was kind of nice to quickly drop my stuff off, head over to the Somerville Theatre and not only not be lugging stuff around, but be able to just head home and drop right afterward was really nice.

For an opening night, it was pretty low-key - Jon Bernhardt on the theremin, Brian Tamm thanking us for coming, and then right into the movie. I like this; I've been to a few festival openings where it seems the folks involved are trying to convince us that we didn't just make a good choice, but are doing something important beyond just seeing good movies.

The Hollars

* * * (out of four)
Seen 27 April 2016 in Somerville Theatre #1 (Independent Film Festival Boston, DCP)

That The Hollars is an independent film in this day and age is a sort of indictment on the film industry: Its story is neither complicated nor difficult to relate to, the style is far from experimental, and the cast is almost entirely made up of familiar names and faces (if not necessarily people that will draw a guaranteed audience on their own). It is quality mainstream entertainment, and it's kind of weird that the people involved had to make it outside of a system that was traditionally built on movies like this.

The set-up is pretty simple; the Hollar family lives somewhere in the Midwest and, like many, is kind of squeaking by: Divorced older son Ron (Sharlto Copley) has moved back in with parents Don (Richard Jenkins) and Sally (Margo Martindale), though Don's plumbing business is on the verge of bankruptcy. An awkward family moment ends with Sally having a seizure, and younger son John (John Krasinski) flies out from New York to be with them, with super-competent and very pregnant girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) seeing to everything.

Not that John is a dope or anything; though he's got a tendency to stumble through situations, it's generally material that has him looking a little goofy though basically harmless. Krasinski (who also directs) is pretty good at playing this sort of fallible straight man, especially since he's clever enough to avoid winking when the script has John tripped up by being honest about the things that usually causes romantic-comedy characters trouble because they don't mention it. It's kind of impressive that he gets quite a bit out of his scenes with Margo Martindale; she is also playing the sensible one, but the affection between this mother and son plays out as their own relationship as opposed to eye-rolling over what doofuses the people around them can be.

Full review on EFC.

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