By Heidi Sharpley.
There’s a saying, “if you want something done give it to a busy woman”. Well, Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder have been busy indeed. Apparently best friends since they were eight years old, these two women are a driving force as according to IndieWire, “the two would be solely in charge of the film’s sound, costumes and makeup, not to mention directing, writing, shooting, producing and starring in it.” They also ran a KickStart campaign to fund it and were recipients of a Women in Film Finishing Fund grant. Aretha Franklyn would have been proud of these sisters, doing it for themselves.
Martha Planter played by Alexandra Kotcheff finds it hard to relate to people and struggles in her job as a tele-sales consultant for an air-conditioning company where her personality as rigid as her perfect hair braids, doesn’t lend itself to making sales. Her zany and true passion is burying tins in the desert containing trinkets and treasures she’s stolen from the second-hand store. Martha types succinct instruction notes with the coordinates and pins them to the town notice board. Her delight comes from recovering compensation left behind by successful treasure hunters.
Hannah Leder really plays three characters: the gentle and damaged Sadie Mayflower, and her mixed up alternate personalities, reckless 4 year old Emma who regularly shits her pants, and brash Angie who loves to get drunk with everyone around her. Sadie arrives unexpectedly after escaping a sex cult and good-hearted Martha takes her in.
This movie is about unlikely friendships, helping each overcome obstacles and finding your place to belong. Not a unique plot but that doesn’t matter. The Planters is visually stunning and the detailed art direction creates beautifully quirky-looking settings for just as quirky and endearing characters.
Each scene is carefully constructed and stylised with a smorgasbord of considered props. The camera angles and framing adds appeal and your eyes are spoon-fed exactly what they are meant to dine on. As the movie unfolds watch out for the whimsical bike and trailer transitions.
Music and sound is a key trigger for the audience of the Planters. Thomas Kotcheff’s compositions are inspiring. I’m guessing Alexandra and Hannah had some help from friends and family.
The stop motion scenes of Hannah’s visions with Jesus and Moses are enchanting. Sam Barnett knows how to animate.
This indie movie won’t be for everyone but already, I want to watch it again. I think Kotcheff and Leder have a style of their own and I look forward to seeing what else this power-house pair comes up with.
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