Your father’s dying; you don’t like your sister very much; your father wants to die; but your sister can’t bear to see him go…what do you do? Nothing To Do answers these questions and more in what is an incredibly personal tale based on the real-life experiences of director Mike Kravinksy.
Nothing To Do is beautiful in that it is personal. Its deliberately low budget production recreates a real life situation, as emotional and painful as it is mundane and boring. I both loved and hated Nothing To Do. Most critics love Nothing To Do for its realism, its simplicity and its hard-hitting truth; but yet I felt so much of it was wooden and unbelievable. My reaction is in largely a result of to the characters and the performances, not the story. Paul Fahrenkopf does an excellent job with his portrayal of Kenny, whose father is lying in a hospice bed slowly dying.
I just didn’t like the character and I didn’t understand why secondary characters all took to him so quickly, or in Patti’s case (Patricia Talmadge) fell for him. Now I know what you’re all thinking. You didn’t like the character, doesn’t mean you can’t like the film right? Well, no, it shouldn’t, but I felt like I was supposed to feel for this character, but I couldn’t. It didn’t help that he kept constantly bringing and eating ONE slice of pizza on a plate when he clearly had a whole pizza! I need pizzaplanations please because that makes no sense to me!
Carrie Bowman who has a second career full of commercials shows her commercial talent with a loud and smiling performance, that for me at times felt forced. Bowman rocked the emotional scenes, she made me almost cry with her tears of sadness and pain at seeing her father pass; but when she spoke I couldn’t help but feel she was selling me something. Phillip Lawton may have been chosen to depict the character Erv based on Kravinsky’s dying father because of the way he told an incredibly personal story and the inspiration for the film’s title Nothing To Do, but I felt his performance, and many of the other performances including Patricia Talmadge all contributed to this feeling like a play on film rather than a feature film.
Kravinsky’s choice for an ultra-low budget production filmed on location in Washington using an all local crew and his choice to use a cast largely from his earlier feature film Geographically Desirable all contributes to this. I feel it was an intended outcome, but for me it took from the performance and I think it’s a shame he didn’t take the time to gain a budget.
Nonetheless, and despite all my complaining I would recommend Nothing To Do on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Its beauty is in its realism and its lack of shine or exaggeration, and I do love that about it. It’s a good watch, but not a great.
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