Monday, March 5, 2012

Delusional: Aaron Rottinghaus' APART opens at New York City's Quad Cinema

If the delusional aspect of APART -- the new film from Aaron Rottinghaus that opens this week -- were kept real for its two lead charac-ters, Emily and Noah, who suppoedly share a rare but medically recognized malady known as Folie à deux (translation: the madness of two, in which a second person shares the delusions of a first, whenever the two are in close proximity), the movie might have worked. Or worked better, at least. In fact, it might have made a decent drama or mystery. Instead, by making these delusions prescient and/or paranormal and having them lead to foreseen events that then take place, the filmmaker pulls the rug out from under his very premise: that these are delusions, and that his movie is about characters afflicted with this malady.

Further, Mr. Rottinghaus, shown at right, lathers on the coincidence and melodrama so heavily that his film achieves instead a not-so-rare and probably medically recognized form of stupidity. Keep it simple should at least be considered as a watchword for the novice filmmaker, which this young writer/director is (his career so far has been mostly as assistant editor). Instead, the fellow flips from past and present and back again to tell his story of what happened to Noah and Emily -- and why. TrustMovies thinks it's a shame that Rottinghaus trod the much-beaten pathway of the paranormal because, watching his and his cast's and crew's work, it's clear that a lot of talent is on display. In his press notes, the filmmaker states that he is much more attracted to stories that end unhappily than happily. Yet his introduction of the fantasy element only helps take the movie out of reality and into the realm of the happy ending.  Which he then refuses to deliver. (That's OK, of course; there is nothing wrong with an unhappy ending, except that the movie that precedes it ought to be up to snuff.)

Technically Apart looks great -- nice cinematography, editing, sound, the works. And there is even a car crash done so well that it belies what was probably a rather small budget. The acting, particularly in the supporting roles played by Bruce McGill and Joey Lauren Adams is a lot of fun. Ms Adams still has that whiskey-lite voice and sweet presence we remember from the much-beloved Chasing Amy. But the movie's two lead performances -- from Olesya Rulin (above) and Josh Danziger (below, who actually provided the original story for the film) are only serviceable, perhaps because Rottinghaus hasn't given the pair much in the way of specific character traits (other than their supposed sickness) to work with.

So, back and forth we constantly go -- from past to present, yes to no, good to evil - until we get to the finale, after which we give a big, tired shrug. Apart (from SystemX Media, 86 minutes) opens this Friday, March 9, in New York City at the Quad Cinema and concurrently can be seen nationwide via video OnDemand.

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