SXSW FILM 2014
By Don Simpson | March 10, 2014
Directors: Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers
Writers: Sarah-Violet Bliss, Brian Lannin, Charles Rogers
Starring: Bridey Elliott, Clare McNulty, Neil Casey, Alysia Reiner, Reggie Watts, Griffin Newman, Jeffrey Scaperrotta, Peter Vack
Allie (Clare McNulty) and Harper (Bridey Elliott) are the epitome of annoying Brooklyn hipsters. They are stereotypical “trust fund kids” with no source of income to justify their Williamsburg apartment. Harper is purportedly an artist who relies upon her father for financial support while Allie is preparing to join the Peace Corps to finally escape New York.
They may not be the easiest protagonists to like, but that only makes the near-Sisyphean struggle of Allie and Harper’s journey across the borough of Brooklyn from Williamsburg to Fort Tilden all the more enjoyable. It is difficult not to derive some pleasure from the repeated hardships that they endure — that is until they escape each situation with the aid of Harper’s checkbook. (Just imagine how different the life of Sisyphus would have been if he only had access to Harper’s checkbook…) It should never be quite this difficult to enjoy a day at the beach with two cute boys, but it seems like most of the hurdles that Allie and Harper face are due to their own selfish, entitled attitudes.
In the end, we can only hope that Allie and Harper might learn some lessons from this experience and change their ways, but there is probably no shaking their unfathomably irresponsible lives of privilege. That said, they end the film with enough scrapes and bruises from their adventure that we can be somewhat hopeful that they may begin to consider a change in lifestyle. Sisyphus could only dream that perhaps this journey will prompt profound existential crises for both Allie and Harper.
Co-written and directed by Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers, Fort Tilden will most likely be a bitter pill for many viewers to swallow. While there are some recent precedents for films (and television series) that have succeeded at least partially due to the sublimely unlikeable personalities of their protagonists, it will be interesting to see if Fort Tilden can ride a similar wave. But that is not to compare Fort Tilden with any of those films (and television series), because this is an incredibly unique production with a narrative arc that takes the form of a surrealist odyssey, leading its protagonists in a menagerie of totally unexpected directions. And while Allie and Harper’s personalities may be like nails on the chalkboard, it takes a hell of a lot of work to create such irritating personas — that is a high compliment to Bliss and Rogers’ writing and the performances of Clare McNulty and Bridey Elliott.