By Don Simpson | January 24, 2012
Director: Christian Palmer
Writers: Christian Palmer, Gil Ponce
Starring: Buddy Vowell, Lori Larsen, Erika Mayfield, Davie-Blue, Rachel Pate, Matt Smith, Linas Phillips, Geoffery Simmons, James Stone
William (Christian Palmer) is a lanky young man whose greased black hair and black leather jacket lend him a certain air of out-of-timeness. We soon learn that William’s state of disconnect goes much deeper than his sense of style, as William appears to exist in a Sisyphean state of eternal struggle with reality and the present.
A short-lived relationship with the woman of his dreams (Erika Mayfield) sends William off the deep end, landing him in a mental institution with bandages covering his wrists. Upon checking out, William scours the streets of Seattle in search of someone or something. He finds a natty old lady (Lori Larsen) who appears to be homeless, crazy and drunk. William refers to this woman as his mother, which makes her appearance all that much more harrowing.
William attempts to nurse his mother back to health with a steadily yet rigidly dispersed regimen of alcohol. While doing so, William attempts to get his own life back on track; but it seems as though someone or something is always trying to hold him back. For one, the film’s title makes an allusion to William’s presumed romantic destiny: to remain unhappily single forever. From this brief glimpse at William’s life, we can assume that he will always fall for the wrong women, or the right women will fall for him at the wrong times.
It is impossible to watch Christian Palmer’s William Never Married and not notice Ryan K. Adams’ stunning cinematography. The handheld camerawork slides in and out of focus with poetic abandon, constantly teetering between cinéma vérité and impressionist style. Adams also reveals an uncanny penchant for extreme and off-putting close-ups, thus adding a healthy dose of abstraction to the stylistic mix. In addition to Adams’ lensing, Palmer and Ian Lucero’s editing techniques add an almost avant-garde structure to the narrative. Rapid fire cutting gives certain sequences a stop-motion aesthetic, while jarring accents of digital-stutters are certain to convince the unsuspecting viewer that something is terribly wrong with the image. Palmer’s visual choices may seem irrationally aggressive, even berating at times, but in totality the non-traditional visual representation of William’s perspective of the world is quite brilliant.
William Never Married presents an extremely flawed and disdainful character with some, but never too much, sympathy. Palmer convinces us to remain on William’s side and pray that this alcoholic misanthrope will claw himself out of the fucking sewer of humanity in which he exists. Despite facing an endless array of hurdles, William proceeds to live his life with keen existential insight; and no matter how difficult his struggle becomes, we can trust that William is never going to give up. It seems that the constant struggle provides William’s existence with meaning and purpose; or, to paraphrase Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, the struggle itself is enough to fill William’s heart. One must imagine William happy.
The winner of the Best Cinematography award at the 2010 Downtown Film Festival (Los Angeles), William Never Married is currently available to be viewed online for free via Vimeo.