Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sexual harassment squared in Sharad Kant Patel's genre jumper, SOMEBODY'S DARLING

A very interesting, often impressive blend of frat house misbehavior, feminist leanings, male prerogative, sexual harassment and the supernatural, SOMEBODY'S DARLING, the first full-length narrative film from Sharad Kant Patel, proves a surprisingly artful concoction -- a movie that hits several of today's hot-button issues head on, even as it successfully morphs into something quite creepy and otherworldly.

Mr. Patel, shown below, is mashing at least two major genres here, and doing this in such a way that be gives both their due, while withholding from us as long as possible the specifics that will eventually enfold one genre, the obsessive love story, into the other -- which is something else indeed.

Before TrustMovies does any over-praising, he must admit that the movie, though only 80 minutes, is still a bit too repetitive for its own good. Yet within those 80 minutes, Patel does such an interesting job of leading and misleading us, dropping hints and clues with skill and panache, that despite the film's refusal to give up its secrets much prior to the finale, he keeps us hanging on. In addition to the screenwriting and direction, our filmmaker is also responsible for the editing, visual effects, some of the music and sound design, and even the color grading and the inventive title sequence. Pretty much top to bottom, this is Patel's baby.

His story of a particular frat house at Williamsburg University (sounds real enough but isn't) and what these bad boys get up to with the girls on campus is typically nasty and unpleasant. But one of the guys, Christian, the frat house President, seems both better and worse than the others. When he becomes smitten with a young lady named Sarah, who prefers to keep her distance from the likes of these frat boys, all the usual bets are off.

As played by Paul Galvan (above, left) and Jessa Settle (above, right) these two characters easily hold the screen, thanks to their talent, looks and charisma, and to Mr. Patel's having given them plenty to do and say that keeps us glued. This is a love story of sorts, and exactly how and why these two feel the way they do is unveiled to us slowly and artfully.

How the filmmaker handles everything from simple (or not so) storytelling to sex, love and past lives is done with enough style and subtlety to impress without appearing pretentious. This is a feat of sorts. And he has also cast his smaller roles well, with an eye to making his young women pretty and slightly vapid and his young men -- for instance, Matt Tramel, below -- pretty and slightly bizarre. It works.

His finale is a shocker that makes exquisite sense. It also makes us think back to what we've seen earlier and how we've misread certain events that now look so different, appalling instead of frat-boy appealing, with the stakes so much higher than we had first imagined.

And yet, ah, what might have been! Somebody's Darling is indeed a love story, but as with almost all obsessive ones, it proves very, very dark.

After a successful festival run, the movie hit VOD -- via iTunes, Amazon and elsewhere -- on December 1, for rental and purchase. It's worth a watch.

No comments: