Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Insanity handled with inventiveness, sadness and glee in Jason James' ENTANGLEMENT

We've seen a number of "crazy love" stories down the decades but few have come to the problem with quite the oddball enthusiasm and determination to figure out the puzzle as ENTANGLEMENT, a new indie film opening in a limited theatrical run this week. As directed by Jason James, shown below, and written by Jason Filiatrault, the movie begins with a suicide attempt interrupted by the doorbell and proceeds from this alternately scary/goofy premise onward to even more frightening and funny matters.

The writer and his director have conceived their film as a kind of gleeful look at possible insanity from a mass of differing -- but mostly amusing -- angles. While this may put off folk who feel that mental illness/suicide should never be treated amusingly and/or cavalierly, TrustMovies must admit that he sometimes finds this can work rather well. (And as a former suicide-attempt, many decades ago, he feels he has a right to his opinion.)

Entanglement uses everything from bits of physics (it possesses its own version of "string theory": see poster at top and the photos toward the bottom), friendship, fantasy (complete with some charming animation), parenting and an almost-adopted sibling to tell the tale of a grown man named Ben -- played by the always interesting and goofy Thomas Middleditch, shown at top and below -- who has a load of trouble coming to terms with things like growing up and accepting responsibility.

Into his life comes a very pretty mystery woman named Hanna, who just may be that nearly-adopted sister. Hanna is played by the versatile and ever-commanding Jess Weixler, who here turns in another first-rate performance that keeps us, and Ben, on our toes. By turns charming, sexy, sweet and bizarre, Weixler has seldom seemed as alluring and/or maybe a little dangerous (except, of course, in Teeth).

Also on hand but relegated to background material -- as so often happens in films to any poor young woman who carries an unrequited torch for the hero -- is a young and pretty neighbor of Ben's named Tabby. Fortunately Tabby is played with enough wit and charm by Diana Bang, below, right, to keep her character in the foreground after all.

These three leads pretty much keep the movie on its oddball course, as we slip and slide along with Ben, finding our way toward unraveling the entanglement that is his mind and life. The movie has connections aplenty, even including that delivery man who rings the doorbell initially and finally appears again in what very well might be a more important role.

Fortunately our two Jasons do not work with a heavy hand. These connections and possibilities are suggested rather than belabored, and the movie comes to its conclusion more quickly, confidently and lightly than you may expect.

Performances are all they need be to brings this rather delicate, bordering-on-precious fable to life. Mr. Middleditch (of Silicon Valley and The Bronze) uses his innate goofiness abetted by just enough charm and appeal to make a pretty good hero of Ben, while Weixler and Bang offer interesting versions of woman as both help-meet and hindrance.

From Dark Star Pictures and running a just-right 85 minutes, Entanglement opens this Friday, February 9, in ten cities across the country, including New York (at the Cinema Village) and Los Angeles (at Laemmle's Monica Film Center). To see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters, click here and then scroll down. And if you're not near any of these ten cities, the film will also be streaming on many of the usual outlets, as well.

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