Sunday, March 16, 2014

Streaming tip: Ted Koland's BEST MAN DOWN is a sweet little film about love, loss and friendship

TrustMovies can't swear to this, but it seems to him that the little rom-com-drama BEST MAN DOWN, written and directed by Ted Koland, must be based on either something that actually happened to the filmmaker or that he heard about from a friend. The movie is simultaneously so precise and bizarre that it is difficult to imagine where a tale this unusual -- filled with such detail and odd characters -- might have come from other than life itself. If not, then Mr. Koland (pictured below) must have quite an imagination. Well, that's an artist's stock in trade, right? On the other hand, we're always told: Write about what you know.

Either way, the filmmaker certainly seems to know these characters well --from the groom (Justin Long) and bride (Jess Weixler), his best friend and their "best man" (Tyler Labine) as well as the several new characters who are introduced, once something happens to that best man.

These would include an entirely other family: problematic mom (Frances O'Connor), her struggling daughter (Addison Timlin, below) and nowhere-near-decent stepdad (Evan Jones).

How and why these two sets of characters interact provides the tale the movie tells, and it's a good one: oddball but quite believable, given the circumstances in which these characters find themselves.

I don't want to spoil the plot surprises, so I will simply say that at the wedding of the characters played by Long and Weixler (above), something happens that sends our newlyweds, rather than on the honeymoon they had planned, onto a road trip of surprising discovery.

Our twosome argues and re-connects and learns things along the way, and so, I think, do most of the other characters, too. These are not lollopalooza life lessons writ large but rather quiet little things that sneak up on them -- and us.

In fact, the whole movie sneaks up on you. Then it's over, and you realize how lovely and quietly significant it has been. Performances are exactly what they should be, with Mr. Labine (above, left) perhaps topping them all by playing a character of whom our perception changes most drastically, from beginning to end.

Mr. Koland ought to be proud. Best Man Down is the kind of film that makes little waves and wins few awards. But it's a shoo-in for success on Netflix streaming, where it's now playing and leaving audiences who appreciate something different feeling chastened and pleased at how well their time's been spent.

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