SXSW FILM 2011
By Dirk Sonniksen | March 15, 2011
Director: Sophia Takal
Writer(s): Sophia Takal
Starring: Kate Lyn Sheil, Sophia Takal, Lawrence Michael Levine
Jealousy is the emotion that can cripple lives. Insecurity, anxiety, and the growing hatred of another warps the truth, turning a rational individual’s thoughts into a refracted view of reality. Jealousy has become a commonplace emotion in society, where best friends turn on each other for a mere brush with fame, another’s success becoming the failure of another. But the most universal form of jealousy comes from the intimate relationship between two that are in love; here jealousy reigns, and the possible outcome of such an emotion is tantamount to an apocalyptic episode.
In Green, Sebastian (Lawrence Michael Levine) and Genevieve (Kate Lyn Sheil) dig deep into the aforementioned emotion when they rent a country house so that Sebastian can complete a writing project. Hailing from New York, Sebastian and Genevieve are a bit snobby (apparently they come from the snobby part of New York), so when Robin (Sophia Takal), a local-yokel pops by uninvited, they are a bit curt and somewhat taken aback; after all, they are worldly New Yorkers…and she is not.
Nevertheless, the two lovers more or less welcome Robin, an innocent creature who begins to make herself at home. Genevieve seems to befriend Robin, but things begin to spiral into a torrent of jealousy, with Genevieve seeing Sebastian growing increasingly more attached to Robin—or at least that’s the way Genevieve sees things. A surreal story begins to develop as Genevieve’s paranoia spikes, although Sebastian and Robin seem oblivious to her distrust. A quiet, relaxing respite eventually becomes…a quiet, less relaxing respite with an unwelcome guest that just might reveal Sebastian and Genevieve’s true feelings.
The Q & A following the screening of Green featured director Sophia Takal (who played Robin) along with actors Kate Lyn Sheil and Lawrence Michael Levine. Takal described the idea behind the story as a jealous fit she experienced that eventually morphed into the idea for a film. In Green, Takal has definitely encapsulated the gamut of feelings that run through the mind of one struggling with the idea that their lover is going astray. Green starts out slow, and I must admit that my mind was beginning to wander after the first thirty minutes of the film, but as the story progressed, I became more and more caught up in Genevieve’s emotional state, and began to hate Sebastian for being a callous prick.
Takal, Sheil, and Levine do a fantastic job in this film. The conversational tone between them, not to mention the tension, is quite genuine and one of the best aspects of Green. That Takal and Levine are an item in “real life,” and that Sheil is actually Takal’s roommate helped to explain how their interactions could be so authentic; perhaps more actors should spend extended periods of time together to establish this sort of bond. Knowing this after-the-fact helped to make the extended dialogue in the film more acceptable, and actually makes me want to see Green again (I am rarely able to watch a film more than once, but there are exceptions).
Green is a case study in human emotion—the worst kinds of emotion. Takal has taken a snapshot of her life experiences and splashed them onto the screen for all to see. It is admirable indeed that someone like Takal is willing to release these inner demons…and actually admit to it; there are many of us who are unwilling to show our true colors. I went into Green, well, green; at the half way mark I wanted to leave—by the end of the film, I couldn’t get enough and wanted more. My hope is that Takal has more emotional baggage for us, and that she is willing to share.