They say don’t pay attention to critics, but I say, only pay attention to the good ones!
DRINK IT UP
*** for indie lovers. See it when it comes by.
***1/2 for indie filmmakers. You must see it, to see what you can do with an indie.
Review by Justin Bowler
Indies are a dime a dozen. Good indies are hard to find. The Waterhole is a good indie.
Too many filmmakers create indies because of money. They wanted to make a much bigger film, but they didn’t have the cash (So, it looks like a really small budget version of a Hollywood film. And who wants that?). Others realize that the best indies are films that don’t try to be anything more than they are: solid storytelling with good performances. Furthermore, there is an added element indies allow. Because they don’t have to “appeal” to mass audiences, filmmakers can try new things, branch out, and create without the confines of Hollywood (Yes, I’ll watch a story of a man who talks to his dog and his dog talks back. At least, I will if it’s an indie) (I wouldn’t touch that crap in a Hollywood Cineplex) (That’s not the plot of “The Waterhole” btw) (However, now that I think about it, I would watch that plot on TV. I just realized that is a great show on FX). Anyway, “The Waterhole” isn’t trying to be a big budget film. It is a true indie in the best possible way: solid performances with solid storytelling.
The star of “The Waterhole” is it’s subtlety. Clearly, the director, Ely Mennin, wanted the film to be as “real life” believable as it could be. Mission accomplished. While some of the actors achieve it more so than others, many scenes would be believable in a documentary. It’s just that subtle.
Patrick J. Adams is the director’s greatest asset to this vision. Nuanced and genuine, his acting is perfectly slice-of-life. As the star, his performance is front and center. Hot on his heels is Jessica Barth. Her character is extremely complex and plagued with many demons, but she plays it with quiet dysfunction, which is not easy to do. Matt Stasi also holds his own in the minor role of the mature friend watching his comrades find their way.
The Waterhole is about characters “growing apart as they choose different paths into the uncertain future”. This is the beauty of indies. They allow filmmakers to delve into the nuances of emotional situations with more than one character. In Hollywood, a single character gets to deal with the unsure future. Furthermore, they only get to deal with it for thirty seconds at a time. In indies, five people can deal with the same issue in their own different way for full scenes. So, the entire aspect of the human psyche is explored. Mid-twenties and burned out… what’s next? Whether you are just finishing college, watching your friends finishing college, getting engaged, or just on the same path you’ll always be on, we each deal with that differently.
In addition, the writer, Nathan Cole, does a great job of seeking new and interesting ways from being the same ol’-same ol’. Yes, there are generic themes that all films deal with, but, it’s the ways these themes are presented/ dealt with/ talked about/ etc. that set them apart. “A broken heart is so fuckin’ trendy. Everyone has a broken heart. This is like an emotional aneurysm.” (Once again, this line is delivered without blairing “look at me”; rather, it is simply stated with the emotion of real life.)
This is not to say that “The Waterhole” is without fault. For my taste, the music falls short. The score is a little too obvious. It feels like the care taken with the rest of the film was not applied to the score. As if it was rushed to get done. In addition, not all of the actors can achieve the style director Ely Mennin is going for.
All and all, I’M IN. This is a great little indie, and worth checking out at your local festival.
“The Waterhole” is also available from AMAZON.
Directed by: Ely Mennin
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Distributor: KR7 Productions