Thursday, August 21, 2014

About Alex: Movie Review

About an ensemble that gives a new generation a film to call their own.

About Alex is advertised as The Big Chill (1984) for Millennials or Gen Yers, but in an effort to not sell this film short, it’s for anybody who was too young to be able to call The Big Chill their own. The main actors are all over 30 and the social media references weren’t over-done. It also boasts an indie cast to die for. I’m a big fan of pretty much all of them and they are cast perfectly for their skills. 2014

Directed by: Jesse Zwick

Screenplay by: Jesse Zwick

Starring: Jason Ritter, Nate Parker, Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield and Maggie Grace

The film had an impressively efficient introduction to the 7 principal characters – their current and former interactions with one another was clear and allowed us to get a quick feel and interest in this magnificent ensemble. Alex (Jason Ritter) has attempted suicide and his former best friend is called to get their group of friends to rally behind him. Ben (Nate Parker) is his best friend; he’s successful and in a relationship but he’s struggling more than he is willing to admit.

Siri (Maggie Grace) is Ben’s girlfriend but is keeping her own secrets because she’s not as confident as she thinks she should be. Sarah (Aubrey Plaza) openly admits to struggling in all aspects of her life, she also thinks they just need to show Alex love and support and then everything will be okay. Josh (Max Greenfield) is the cynical and unsupportive friend who just doesn’t want to talk around things; he also hates nostalgia for the past just as much as he hates the present. Isaac (Max Minghella) is the uber-successful, confident and still-caring friend, but he has somehow turned into a Republican in a surprisingly stable relationship. Kate (Jane Levy) is Isaac’s girlfriend, but she’s an outsider, just meeting this group of friends for the first time, and she’s around eight years younger. As the outsider, Kate has a tremendous grasp of their personalities and insecurities; she just isn’t as capable at identifying her own insecurities.

For those paying close attention, the various romantic entanglements will not come as a surprise because the actors did a fantastic job laying subtle clues to what their characters used to be like as well as what they’re like now. Each actor is able to portray their character’s strengths as well as their flaws to create both empathy and humour. Greenfield was the funniest but he’s also the loud-mouth of the group determined to turn every moment into either a one-liner or the honest truth. The dialogue is fantastic and helps the film transition from moments of comedy to moments of drama.

As with most independent films, the movie suffers from dark lighting, but they make good use of the confined cabin and some gorgeous shots of the forested countryside. The ending can also seem very inconclusive, but that’s also the point of About Alex, it’s a slice-of-life film where every member of the ensemble represents an inconclusive time of life.
Best of 2014
Best Lesser-known of 2014