Review by Robert Mann.
When it comes to the big Hollywood filmmakers there often seems to be an attitude that bigger equals better. And bigger is often achieved by using all the latest technology that is available to filmmakers, e.g. high definition cameras, computer generated imagery and motion capture rendering to name a few such developments. However, reliance on such technologies can often come with a pretty big price tag – no, I’m talking about the monetary cost but rather the heart and soul of the film. For example, Robert Zemeckis once made some of the most moving, riveting and entertaining films that Hollywood had to offer but his recent forays into motion capture animation, whilst being quite beautiful, have seemed quite soulless in some ways, failing to even come close to emulating the success of his past movies. In short, bigger isn’t always better and technology doesn’t necessarily make for a better film. It is for this reason that films made by independent filmmakers can often stand out from the crowd. Up and coming filmmakers don’t have big budgets nor do they have access to the kind of technology at the disposal of the big movie directors, they simply make do with what they have, and sometimes this can lead to something quite special, as is the case in …Around.
Doyle Simms (Robert W. Evans) grows up across the Hudson from NYC and flees his toxic family to attend a film program there. After a bumpy first year he returns more determined than ever to become a storyteller and figure out his place. Financial setbacks force Doyle to find creative “rent-controlled living” and begin a dual life living out of Penn Station while going to school. We follow Doyle over his college years as he begins to build relationships with several colorful characters such as Saul (Ron Brice), a homeless book dealer who shows him the ropes and his own brand of street philosophy, and Allyson (Molly Ryman), a beautiful, struggling actress he carefully begins to pursue and fall for. Doyle begins to find a weird balance and begin to build a home, but the pressure of maintaining his worlds begins to crack the façade and he’s forced to confront his past family demons and reconcile the person he wants to be with the person he is.
…Around is a labour of love for its writer/director David Spaltro. Drawn from his own personal experiences a few years ago in New York City, he has created a film that puts life onto the big screen in a way that perfectly captures both the joys and the difficulties that people face in the struggle that is day to day life, effectively blending together elements of comedy and drama. In many ways it is quite a classic tale but Spaltro tells his story in a way that feels fresh and original. The reason it works so well is one thing – heart. Unlike certain big budget movies I mentioned, this is a film that is packed full of emotion, charm and soul. He doesn’t just aim to entertain like some filmmakers might, not that the film isn’t entertaining mind you, but he also moves us, showing us a perspective on life that many will be able to relate to and understand. In these difficult economic times the film’s message is particularly poignant. It really is hard not to be moved by the experiences of the protagonist, this success attributable to both the writing of Spaltro – who has created characters, the kind of whom we see in our everyday lives and are completely relatable, entirely believable and extremely well rounded and developed, and provides dialogue that is sound authentic sharp, witty and snappy – and the performance of Robert W. Evans who plays the role with such charisma and emotion that we are both entertained and moved by him in equal measure. His chemistries with his co-stars are also impressive, his character’s relationships reflecting the complicated and imperfect nature of real world social interactions. The co-stars also deliver very strong and rounded performances in their own right too. Spaltro is as much a success in the visuals department, delivering some very good cinematography, consistent editing and utilizing the wide variety of locations that New York has to offer to great effect. This is a New York movie in every respect, with Spaltro even using music from local New York bands for the soundtrack, something which makes for a fantastic accompanying track and makes a great change from all the chart music that often features in big Hollywood films. So, …Around is a film that has style and substance in abundance, is as interesting as it is entertaining, tells a truly inspiring story, is both funny and moving, has great characters, sublime visuals, fantastic music and that is an all round great first film for a filmmaker who is sure to go on to do great things.
…Around is currently going around the film festivals circuit and can also be downloaded online via Amazon Video On Demand and Netflix. The filmmakers have also been approached by several distributors about a possible small cinema release in the states and internationally.
For more information about …Around check out the film’s website at: http://www.aroundthefilm.com/
EDIT – The film is also available on Blinkbox Live if you are in the UK.
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