Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Date with Loneliness

Many of you know Lucas McNelly from his excellent blog 100 Films, on which he frequently shines the spotlight on uber-indie filmmakers who make their art mostly on their own dime and definitely their own vision. Lucas champions these artists in part because he is one himself. His d press Productions is responsible for projects such as L'Attente and Guard Duty, and the latest is his most ambitious -- Gravida.

Gravida premieres July 12 at the Hollywood Theatre in Pittsburgh, and I was more than happy to post an advance review (these are the kind of perks you can expect as a Friday Screen Test alum).

Billed as 'a study in loneliness,' Gravida is equally about hope and identity. With a running time of 24 minutes, the film is tight with real conflict and emotion, taking great advantage of its short duration. The film is simple, but its themes and resolution is anything but -- and any further exposition or story lines would only detract from the end product. As the credits open we wake up wearily with Kristin, who only has a few more months of living alone (she's pregnant). The other character is Guy, a courier who frequently stops by Kristin's office and is a bit shocked at her forward invitation to dinner at her house. The evening seems to be going well, but there's always the lingering element of Kristin's pregnancy, and how she's not being forward about it with Guy. This issue is brought to a head in the film's final minutes, where Gravida reaches its touching apex.

Gravida deals with a delicate subject matter, and could have lost the audience's interest and trust without a careful hand, but Lucas is certainly up to the task. Lucas' camera is never obtrusive, acting more as an invisible observer even when the story's emotions peak. Actors Rachel Shaw and Adam Kukic find their stride as the story builds and are able to sell the idea that their characters are facing troubling, adult decisions.

Since the characters are obviously lonely subjects, much of their intimate moments are spent reconnoitering whatever line has been drawn between them. Because of this there is little dialog, but the film slowly gains momentum as the tension builds between Kristin and Guy as they must decide the fate of their night. This isn't a sob story. Gravida is honest and sweetly brutal in how it deals with its subject matter, and leaves you wondering how you would react in the same situation.

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