AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Linc Leifeste | October 22, 2011
Director: Brandon Dickerson
Writers: Wes Cunningham, Brandon Dickerson, Thomas Ward
Starring: Wes Cunningham, Amy Acker, Tony Hale, Robyn Lively, Jeremy Sisto, Courtney Ford
Thomas Fisher (Wes Cunningham) is a talented singer/songwriter on the verge of making it big. His major label debut album is awaiting release, him and his beautiful wife Molly (Amy Acker) are expecting their first child and about to move into a beautiful high-rise condo in the heart of LA; in short, his dreams are about to become reality. Then the rug is suddenly pulled out from under his feet as record label executives decide Thomas and his music are no longer “relevant,” choosing to shelve his album. His agent, Tucker (Jeremy Sisto), sensing that his client’s stock has declined, leaves him high and dry, shifting his focus to younger more marketable pop stars. No longer able to afford his new LA home, baby on the way, and disgusted by the LA music machine that has chewed him up and spit him out, Thomas is at a crossroads. He impulsively decides it’s time to pack up and move to Sironia, TX (Waco in disguise), where Molly’s brother lives, to raise a family among “real people” living real lives. Of course things are never that simple.
Thomas tries to build a new and simple life in Sironia, landing a job managing a non-profit thrift shop and restaurant via Molly’s brother Chad (Tony Hale) but finds himself unable to deal with the festering resentment over his failed music career. Molly finds she enjoys her new role as a mother in her new home but struggles with seeing her husband becoming a detached shell of his former self. As Thomas’ unhappiness grows and his behavior becomes more erratic, his marriage and family are strained to the breaking point.
With his feature film directorial debut, Brandon Dickerson firmly establishes himself, managing to secure a brilliant acting turn by novice Cunningham (himself a talented and experienced singer/songwriter who provides a strong soundtrack) and the rest of the cast. While the script occasionally falls slightly prey to cliche and the characters at times left me wondering if they weren’t a touch too good-natured (or maybe I’m just too cynical) to be completely believable, I ultimately found myself rooting for, and believing in, Thomas and Molly’s relationship. The sharp script allows Molly the deep philosophical lines that sum up the heart of the story: you’ll never find happiness if you’re looking for something that only exists in your imagination.