Review by Justin Bowler
We all have dreams, but if we don’t achieve them, does that mean we can’t still be happy?
I believe movies can best be experienced without any prior knowledge of the film. Imagine if you knew nothing of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, and just went on the ride the filmmaker originally intended for you to go on. How much more would you have enjoyed it? With major blockbusters, that is almost impossible. I can’t imagine anyone could/or would go see a major release without having been bombarded by the Hollywood machine (that spends 50 million on advertising, when the blockbuster cost 100 million to make). But, when it comes to indies, one actually has a chance to do just that. I, personally, don’t read summaries on DVD boxes, I just insert the disc and enjoy. Sometimes, it means you will waste two hours of your life. But, sometimes, it means you will be able to enjoy a film on a whole new level. And the experience of watching the film (good or bad) will always be more interesting. Such was my experience with “No Footing”.
(Now, before I launch into the generalities of my experience, understand I completely realize the irony of encouraging audiences to learn as little as possible about a movie, during a review OF A MOVIE.) So, to that point, I simply say, if you are an artist, then you will appreciate this film. So, stop reading and go check it out. But, the truth is, most people, especially those who are used to the Hollywood machine, need much more information to make them salivate over indie fare. Thus, I begin my review.
When I first began my journey through the world of “No Footing”, I immediately recognized the power of it’s star Jensen Bucher. She is exceptional in her role as the conflicted artist trying to find her way in the real world (as the movie progressed, you could really see why she won an award for this role). She has a quiet charm and her subtlety is picturesque and worthy of further Hollywood attention (personally, I would love to see her in some Amy Adams-type roles). Also, I was totally impressed with the music and cinematography. In fact, there is nothing indie about them. They’re truly top notch. Visually, it’s way beyond the level of the average indie and the production value is particularly high (this indie either had a lot of money or really talented people on the production team). Furthermore, they opted for more soundtrack than score and the choice of music is impressive and thorough (not to mention, probably expensive).
When I began the film, I didn’t think much of the story (not entirely relationg to fresh post-college females) nor can I say I was excited about the genre (at first glance it seemed meant for a pre-“Lifetime Channel” audience), but I soon found that like most powerful indies, it treaded where Hollywood has always feared to go, and crossed genres. It was no longer about a girl and her struggle with the woes of being an independent female (cheating boyfriend, chauvanistic boss, brainwashed condescending wasp mother), instead it became about an artist and her search for happiness in a world where art is not accepted as a legitimate career (nor is it lucritive enough to be called a “career”). This story and struggle speak to a very different target audience, namely me.
As an artist who once faced the (contrary) “advice” of influential elders, I related to the main character completely: similar conflicts, similar conversations, similar confrontations. Furthermore, I think all artists (of film, page, sound, and canvas) can relate to this struggle.
Furthermore, add to the mix, the idea that dream achievement does not hold the exclusive monopoly on happiness. And further pursuance of happiness does not deem one a failure. This is represented by the very talented male lead, Jake Matthews. He is exceptional, as the living argument of why artsists should pursue happiness, not just a dream. He is subtly strong, emotionally sincere and quietly charismatic (in addition to being an actor, he was on the production team of “No Footing”, and executive produces another feature called “Calendar Girl”). (Judging from his performance, he understands, in real life, this struggle.)
While I would recommend this film to other indie fans, it is not without fault. Some of them come in the form of backhanded compliments. The two leads are so good, it really illustrates the gap between their ability and the ability of the supporting characters. In addition, the film derailed from it’s indie charm a little in the end by trying to wrap things up too neatly (this film is about the struggle and the ride of an artist, not the outcome). I would have liked the filmmakers to have been a little more subtle with the main character’s final actions toward her boss (but, that is a minor complaint and wasn’t enough for me to get too critical about it.)
Between the honest depiction of the “struggling artist”, the acting of the two leads, and it’s overall production value, this film is definitely worth a viewing.
Author’s Note – 1/10/11: After speaking with the director about the budget for the cinematography and music, I was informed that they, in fact, did not have much money. Kudos to them. They made it look like they did.
“No Footing” is available you YOUTUBE.COM
Directed by: Michael Licisyn
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Distributor: Mixed Nuts Productions