Joshua Reviews Ely Mennin’s ‘The Waterhole’ [DVD Review]

Movies about men and their relationships with one another seem to be the darling of Hollywood.   Be it big budget pieces like The Hangover or smaller, more intimate fare like the film discussed here, The Waterhole, the film world has been littered with films pertaining to the male intrapersonal relationship.

However, as with most things, the lighter the budget, the more creative, intriguing, and overall wonderful the final product is.

The Waterhole follows Miller, a   young man whose home away from home is a local bar, owned by a buddy of his.   With his graduation from college on the horizon, and a break-up fresh in his mind, he and his two best friends Jim and Murphy spend most of their days in their new lives sitting at the bar.   However, when things begin to slowly unravel for Miller, the game changes, bringing with it unforeseen consequences.

With roles on shows like Lost and Friday Night Lights, Patrick J. Adams should be a much bigger name, but while that may not be the case, this should hopefully change that.   Adams plays Miller, and is absolutely perfect for this role.   He embeds this sense of post-college malaise that sinks in for anyone and everyone who has recently graduated from college. This generation is both the most passive, and yet understanding generation, which in turn leads us to be ultimately the most overqualified and under-appreciated generation in some time.   You get the feeling that frankly, Miller shouldn’t have to be sitting at the bar to feel alive and in control, but alas, there he is, wasting his impeding degree on nothing more than a couple of guys, and a bottle.

When it comes to these types of films, if the chemistry between the male protagonists doesn’t feel right, the film falls flat.   Here, the threesome feels truly fleshed out, and natural.   Matt Stasi and Jade Carter are both great here as Miller’s right hand men, both having their own issues, and their own really touching and moving character moments. That said, it’s Joey Klein, who plays a fellow mutual friend with an equally troubled past, that steals the show.   There are a few shrill moments amongst the cast, but Klein knocks each and every scene he has directly out of the ball park. The women need some love too, as both Rebecca Mozo and Wynter Kullman add a lot of depth to the film.

Written by Nathan Cole and directed by Ely Mennin, the film may not be the most stylistic of dramedies, but it is absolutely heartfelt, and truly moving.   The film structurally doesn’t try anything new, but what director Mennin allows the film to do is truly breath.   There is a lot going on in these men’s lives, both known to us and below the surface, and it is these character moments that Mennin allows to steep on screen.   A few moments here seem to be existing for no other reason than to simply somehow move the plot forward, but those beats are few and far between. The film as a visual entity isn’t the most inventive of works, but from the first moment, to the last, this film is definitely a thought provoking look at men and their relationships, as well as what it is truly like to be stuck in the post-college purgatory.

Overall, The Waterhole isn’t a perfect film.   A few of the moments fall solidly on their face, particularly some near the final act that just simply shouldn’t be there.   However, with a fantastic cast all turning in top notch performances, and some truly touching moments, this is an indie release that should be seen by anyone and everyone.   A truly solid bit of independent filmmaking, The Waterhole is a shocking gem that is now available on DVD.