Thursday, March 19, 2020

Netflix streaming tip: CHANGE IN THE AIR -- Try Dianne Dreyer/Audra Gorman's unusual and quite beautiful bit of uplift

If you follow this blog at all, you already know how anti-organized religion TrustMovies certainly is. And yet, by the end of the 2018 film CHANGE IN THE AIR, now available via Netflix streaming, he had undergone about as close to a religious experience as he may be capable. And, no, we're not talking Jesus, Moses, Buddha or Muhammad here.

Rather, this very small but surprisingly expansive movie manages to gift us with the kind of appreciation of our natural world and the people in it that few films even try -- let alone achieve. And fucking hell, in the midst of global warming, the most corrupt and incompetent political administration in my lifetime, the current global pandemic and, oh, let's see, what else? -- do we ever need right now something as joyful and caring as this film!

Director Dianne Dreyer (at right) and screenwriter Audra Gorman have concocted a tale of humanity put in touch with its most personal needs, desires, regrets and hopes in a manner of a kind of mystery. And, yes, you could even liken this film to one of those religious mystery plays or old -- made spanking new via an original combination of symbolism and art in which the otherworldly bumps up against the mundane, and in the process ignites a fervent understanding and appreciation of the wonders all around (and including) us.

The screenplay offers characters who are quirky but never beyond-the-pale and a situation -- a mysterious young woman appears in a small town and begins receiving each day a huge sack of mail all to herself -- that can't help but grab us. Who is she and what's going on?  That this character is played by an exquisite, ethereal Rachel Brosnahan (above), nearly unrecognizable from her Mrs. Maisel role, let alone that in House of Cards, will make this movie, for many, a must-see. And Ms Brosnahan is terrific, walking a fine line between symbol and reality with perfect grace and ease.

The rest of the cast is not only exceptional, each makes good on his/her storied reputation by offering a plethora of moments that are both believable and worth treasuring. The neighbors surrounding the house in which the Brosnahan character lives are played by Mary Beth Hurt and Olympia Dukakis (above, left and  right, respectively), M. Emmet Walsh (as Dukakis' dementia-addled husband, below),

Aidan Quinn as the local cop (below), and Macy Gray (shown at bottom, left) leading the local youth choir in a wonderful rendition of Leonard Cohen's Anthem that helps bring the film to a rousing, moving close, sound-wise, even as, sight-wise, we're treated to a beautiful coalescence of those symbols we've been viewing and considering.

Dreyer and Gorman offer us just enough explanation, without ever overdoing it, that we can take this and figure out what we need in order to -- just as does the movie -- come to some fruition. Nowhere is this more evident than in the lovely scene between Ms Hurt and the local postman (played so well by Satya Babha, below, left, that you'll want to see this actor again, ASAP), as the two of them surreptitiously open and read the mail that is being delivered and are slowly blown away by it -- just as you will be, too.

Why? Well, see this remarkable film and start mulling it all over. In addition, the way in which Change in the Air calls attention to and appreciation of our natural world is much needed these days. Bird lovers in particular should be thrilled by what they see. In that regard, a word must be said for actor Peter Gerety (shown below, right). I've seen this fellow in many films, but here he becomes indelible, giving a rich, real and lovely performance in the kind of supporting-actor role that doesn't come around at all frequently.

And then there's Ms Brosnahan. So different is she here from almost anything else I can recall that this alone ought to make you stick the movie in your Netflix DVD queue or streaming list.

Originally released in very limited theatrical fashion by Screen Media Films and running just 94 minutes, Change in the Air is available digitally now via Netflix and elsewhere for purchase or rental.


kcoffman said...

Thank you for writing this detailed review. I watched this movie and was fascinated by the tone and the excellent cast. Clearly it meant something to the people who took such care in performance and production, so I wondered what I am missing. This quiet wonder deserves a wider audience. Here's a more appropriate link to L. Cohen's song:

TrustMovies said...

Thanks, kcoffman -- I appreciate your taking the time to comment and to think further about this special little movie. (I've replaced my old link to Anthem with your new one.) I hope a lot of others will give CHANGE IN THE AIR the opportunity to move them and make them consider things a bit further than usual.