Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Third Star

Adrift as I am already with conflicting ideas and emotions, reviewing Third Star is no effortless task. To begin with, it is not an easy movie to recommend and certainly isn’t one you are likely to see in your local multiplex. For the average movie-goer it is probably too difficult- it has quiet gaps, no true action sequences, hardly any slapstick shenanigans, the characters talk over one another’s lines (in accents, no less) and there is no display of romantic attachment. However, if you take the plunge, if you care to look beyond glam and effects and cheap laughs, if you can stand to slow your pace to consider what life is about, this film will arrest you. It is an artistic endeavor full of beauty and humanity, of grace and friendship, silliness and frailty. It also has some laugh out loud moments.

On its face, it is the simple story of a terminally ill young man (exquisitely acted by Benedict Cumberbatch) who wants to go on one last camping expedition with his best friends (JJ Field, Tom Burke and Adam Robertson) to visit his favorite place. To get there, they wander the sometimes precarious terrain of West Wales and their own disillusioned lives. Adventures, spats, humor and acceptance ensue.

At it's heart, Third Star is a mediation on the choices we make, the time we spend, the things we are willing to do for the people we hold dear.

Knowing the premise, I fully expected to cry and was prepared to do so, tissues neatly tucked in the outer pocket of my purse, and some viewers I'm sure will be moved to tears in their seats, but I found the film too well crafted to elicit an instant reaction. The emotional heft of the story is too subtle and touches a more profound place than can be examined within the 92 minutes of a single viewing. Nearly 24 hours later, I am still attempting to catalog the thoughts and feelings that it's left me with (almost as though I’m going through the five stages of grief) and I feel the tears may yet come.

I watched Third Star in the tiny 50-ish person Boedecker Theater in Boulder, Colorado. Surrounding me were vociferous veterans of independent film viewing who laughed and gasped and responded accordingly to all that was being shared with them during the showing and yet, when the screen went black and the lights slowly rose, there wasn’t so much as a murmur. Instead there was the silence of impact, of people affected. It was a privilege to experience that in a modern cinema.

In May, due to it’s small opening, the production company initiated a project called “Third Star Adventures” to encourage people to share the journeys they’d made in order to see the film. Some people crossed borders, some traveled to different countries, all seemed to come away with an impression, a stirring of emotion. They felt they’d had an experience. I only had to drive 22 miles (in 90 degree weather without an air conditioner) down the highway for the opportunity, and I can’t help but feel that a new journey is just beginning for me as a result.

That, I think is where the beauty of this film lies- in it’s quiet and genuine reflection of human experience. We can all relate to that, can’t we?

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