AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2010
By Don Simpson | October 30, 2010
Director: Adam Reid
Writer: Adam Reid
Starring: Sabrina Lloyd, Lynn Cohen, James Urbaniak, Harry Chase, Nate Smith, Kamel Boutros
Adam Reid ponders loneliness in this trilogy of inter-cut vignettes. The six characters are paired off almost haphazardly, as if purely by the godly hand of fate; they are brought together not by love or affection, but by the desperate desire for another human being to connect with. Once they find that person, they latch on for dear life…
In the secluded countryside, we meet Bill Soap (Harry Chase), a successful voice-over artist who lives the life of a recluse — his family has left him — in a spacious rural home. Bill’s only daily contact with the outside world is Omar (Kamel Boutros), a delivery man who seems to love nothing more than verbally berating, and being verbally berated by, Bill. Coasting somewhere beyond his middle age, Bill is an immature curmudgeon spending most of his waking hours clothed only in his undies. Bill alternates his waking life between his personal soundproof booth (from where he up-links his voice-overs digitally to master control) and strolls around the wooded area around his house (where he likes to shoot things). As loneliness and guilt slowly gnaw away at Bill’s soul, Bill makes a last ditch attempt to establish a real friendship with Omar while also making several desperate last-ditch phone calls to his daughter, hopelessly pleading for her forgiveness on her voicemail.
In the suburbs, we meet Eleanor (Lynn Cohen)a widow who apparently has no friends, children, or grandchildren. Eleanor’s greatest pleasure in life used to be driving her car (which represented freedom to her), but her driver’s license has been revoked so she sells the vehicle. Stranded in suburbia without any means of transportation, Eleanor turns to her significantly younger telecommuting neighbor Gary (James Urbaniak), a shy copy-editor,to assist her with errands and such. Gary seems like a nice enough guy, but he is very blunt and has a tendency to not think before he speaks; essentially he cannot self-edit (which is ironic, since he is a copy editor). An unlikely pair — Eleanor could easily be Gary’s mother (or grandmother) — Eleanor and Gary develop a relationship that appears to be as awkward and strange for the characters to participate in as it is for the audience to watch.
In the city, we meet Gordon (Nate Smith), a single twenty-something who has recently discovered the Internet and is desperately seeking companionship and sports wagering online. He meets Debby (Sabrina Lloyd)and after what at first seems like a one night stand, they latch on to each other immediately. Like the early stage of most relationships, theirs is brimming with euphoric moments, but their euphoria quickly begins to crumble into bouts of petty bickering. No matter how bad the arguments get, Gordon and Debby find ways to work things out. As the situations they encounter become more and more extreme so do the steps they take to plod onward in life together.
Wearing multiple hats as producer, director, writer and cinematographer, Adam Reid masterfully weaves together these three stories that may never connect on a physical plane but are clearly intertwined on a much more cerebrally abstract plane. Reid, via his skillful editing, steers us between the three narratives so naturally that it goes without notice.
Hello Lonesome does an excellent job of fleshing out its realistic and multifaceted characters. The cinematography and performances are kept emotionally organic and raw, always luring the audience in closer so that they might establish stronger connections with the characters. The characters all reveal some very unlikable qualities, but for the most part they find ways to earn the audience’s sympathy. Once Reid suspects that the audience has connected with his characters — he leads us directly to the oh so climatic conclusion. We are well aware that Adam Reid is playing god and that the fate of these characters is in his hands. During the final act, Reid playfully toys with us, letting us know that he could kill any of the characters quite easily at any time. The question is: will he do it?
(Also check out our interview with Hello Lonesome director Adam Reid.)