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  • Kilimanjaro | Review

    SXSW FILM 2013

    By | March 14, 2013


    Director: Walter Strafford

    Writer: Walter Strafford

    Starring: Brian Geraghty, Chris Marquette, Alexia Rasmussen, Abigail Spencer, Jim Gaffigan, Bruce Altman, Henny Russell, Diego Klattenhoff, John Cullum

    Kilimanjaro capably presents the story of a bottled up young New Yorker whose life has fallen into a soul crushing rut but it walks a fine line between feeling “real” and feeling bland. I found myself vacillating between feelings of empathy and indifference to a lead character who has not so much driven his life into the ditch as one who wound up there after being placed on public transit by his parents. But ultimately the film has a mildly flavorful power, particularly the closing scene that felt like a punch to the solar plexus, that sticks with you.

    Doug (Brian Geraghty) is a late-20’s assistant editor, who on paper probably looks pretty damn good. He’s white, smart, attractive, healthy, employed, in a relationship with his gorgeous girlfriend Clare (Alexia Rasmussen) and has a solid relationship with his family. But from the opening shots of the film it’s clear that he’s not in a good place. The question becomes, “How sorry should we feel for this guy?” His relationship with Clare has gone ice cold and he’s sleepwalking through life. In what is obviously the norm for any of Doug’s life changes, things take a turn when Clare, seemingly more out of frustration than indifference, initiates a break up. Instead of putting up a fight, Doug jumps on board and this event seemingly strikes a spark in his auto-piloted life.

    After seeing a TV special on Mount Kilimanjaro, he gets the uncharacteristic bold idea to take a trip to make the climb and soon convinces his (seemingly only) friend, douchebag stockbroker Mitch (Chris Marquette) to join him. Not long after, while running at a neighborhood track, he strikes up a conversation with beautiful Yvonne (Abigail Spencer) and it seems his life might be on the verge of some kind of turnaround. But as most of us know, the bond of well established inertia is not that easily broken and life begins to throw up one roadblock after another to prevent Doug’s trip from happening.

    Well cast and solidly acted, Geraghty turns in a brilliant performance as milquetoast Doug. And Marquette provides the biggest spark of a nearly sparkless film as asshole Mitch, the kind of friend you’d only wish on your enemies. Likewise, Jim Gaffigan is painfully believable as Doug’s unsympathetic boss and Bruce Altman gives a solid performance as Doug’s loving but domineering father. A potential flaw of the film is that we’ve all seen these characters before and the film runs a risk of its audience losing interest in such an ineffectual lead character surrounded by stock supporting characters. But ultimately, the film’s strength lies in its ability to use those very clichéd characters to effectively undermine the clichés too often foisted on viewers of mainstream films. Regardless of your circumstances, finding meaning in life is hard. Determining your own fate is a dream rarely achieved.  And change, it doesn’t come easy.

    Rating: 7/10

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