SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2013
By Don Simpson | January 27, 2013
Director: Calvin Lee Reeder
Writer: Calvin Lee Reeder
Starring: Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne, James Cady, Scott Sharot, Paul Blott, Robyn Reede, Christopher Dempsey, Carrie Lazar, Fran Martone, Sherril Johnson, Matt Olsen, Jed Maheu, Christo Dimassis
At first glance, The Rambler (Dermot Mulroney) seems like a character Sam Shepard might have played several years ago. A tough-as-nails, blue collar type, we can only assume that his internal soundtrack is a mix of murder ballads performed by Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. The Rambler has not had an easy life thus far, and his recent time in prison was obviously hard on him. You see, The Rambler is a rambling man. He is a man of the highway, ain’t nobody gonna to keep him in one place for very long.
Soon after his release from prison, The Rambler is on the road again. He heads towards Oregon, presumably to help his brother break in some new horses, but realistically it is just a temporary destination. The Rambler’s journey to the Pacific Northwest is a rambling and meandering one, leaving much to the fate of the random array of characters who pick up this grizzled hitchhiker.
Once The Rambler hits the road, we realize that he is stuck in a perpetual loop. Perhaps he has been hit upside the head a few too many times, but the same assortment of characters appear to drift in and out of his consciousness, as if his trek is following a surreal blend of disjointed dream logic. One such character is The Scientist (James Cady), who claims to have invented a contraption that can record dreams on VHS tapes, but let’s just say that he has not worked out all of the kinks quite yet. Then there is The Girl (Lindsay Pulsipher) — there is always a girl, and in this case there is always the same girl. Scene after scene after scene, sometimes The Girl is a love interest, other times she is more of a peripheral character, but she always catches The Rambler’s eye. Then again, how could the lovely Lindsay Pulsipher not catch his eye?
Calvin Lee Reeder’s The Rambler drifts somewhere in the same WTF level of the stratosphere as the mind-blowing brainwaves of David Lynch (Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet), Quentin Dupieux (Rubber) and Peter Jackson (Bad Taste, Dead Alive). Most of this film exists in the blasted out realm of no reason, playing like a crazed recurring nightmare of a man who is just spinning his wheels. Maybe The Rambler is stuck in the quagmire of a fugue state of limbo and he just needs to figure out the right key or code to use to stop the warped record from skipping…or maybe he just needs to have his head examined?