While film festivals may play host to various A-list features, looking for some good buzz prior to its massive theatrical release (I’m looking at you Source Code), it’s films like Green that make festivals wholly worth the long wait in lines.
The latest film from writer/director (and also editor/actor in this film) Sophia Takal, Green is a well crafted, surreal take on a neo-neo realistic narrative, unlike anything you’re bound to see in quite some time.
Green follows the story of a couple, Genevieve and Sebastian, who move to the country while he gets to work on a new project on sustainable farming. The two meet Robin, a kind local, who Genevieve turns to as a friend. However, when it appears as though Sebastian and Robin begin a new bond of their own, things drastically change.
Stylistically very much inspired by films from the likes of Robert Altman and Ozu, Green is a wonderfully crafted gem of a low budget indie, that is a kin to something like a mumblecore film shot by Lars Von Trier.
Takal is really the star here, both in front of and behind the camera. Her first feature film, Green is a deft blend of heartbreakingly realistic narrative and genuinely compelling direction, that adds a distinct level of dread over the otherwise mundane happenings. Gorgeous earth toned cinematography, the film gives the world of mumblecore a wholly original feel, one that has a heart, a mind, and one hell of a gorgeous body.
Featuring primarily three actors, Takal is a perfect counterpoint to our leads here. Takal plays Robin, a warm and inviting local, and while the accent itself is a tad bit jarring, the character is essentially the film’s heart, which is ultimately infused into the film through Takal’s fantastic performance. Fellow filmmaker Lawrence Michael Levine plays Sebastian, with Kate Lyn Sheil as his main squeeze, and the film ultimately thrives when these two are on screen. They have really wonderful chemistry, chemistry that gives the film’s conclusion so much heft and strength, and it’s given to the film by these performances. Levine is great here as the boyfriend, who isn’t just a simple plot device, as the premise may have you think. He’s a fully fleshed out character, as is Sheil’s Genevieve, whose jealous girlfriend is really given a facelift here thanks to here performance.
And therein lies the film’s greatest aspect.
Green is a narrative that you, me, your mother, and her mother have seen before. Jealousy and its impact on relationships is far from a new premise. However, through the eyes of Takal, this film is given a narrative that not only acts as a breath of fresh air to the genre of mumblecore (of which it is undoubtedly bred out of), but also the topic at hand.
Jealousy inherently lies within all of us. Whether it be someone at work getting a promotion, or even that kid down the block that got the new toy before you did, humans are, at our core, jealousy entities. Bred out of Takal’s own issues with jealousy, the film is a fantastic look at its impact on not only a romantic relationship, but also one that is between two friends. A very isolating feeling, Green is an equally isolating picture visually, with long takes and eye grabbing framing, all adding to the film’s compelling thematic elements. The film’s screenplay should also be commended for adding quite a bit to this conceptual landscape, as well as some really interesting beats. Featuring almost non-existent, the screenplay itself is absolutely fantastic, and ad-libs, particularly one during a scene involving ice cream, give Green a realistic feel. Add that to the film’s surreal visual style, particularly near the end, and you have one of the most intellectually compelling pieces in quite some time.
Overall, while Green is far from everyone’s cup of tea, fans of mumblecore will find more than their fair share of loveable aspects, but fans of visually striking and intellectually charged pieces will also fall in love with this film. Not a single wasted shot, every moment is warranted, and ultimately paid off on. The ending may ultimately leave some people cold, but from start to finish Green is easily one of the best films from this year’s SXSW slate.
(Stay tuned, as on Friday there will be an interview with writer/director/editor/star Sophia Takal and stars Lawrence Michael Levine and Kate Lyn Sheil)
Green will be screening again on: