Austin Film Festival 2014
By Don Simpson | October 30, 2014
Director: Bradley W. Ragland
Writer: Norman Lesperance
Starring: Chelsea Gilligan, Todd Julian, Norman Lesperance, Eme Ikwuakor, Conrad Goode, Ian Shepard, Lauren Maher, Erik Aude, Craig Gellis, Jules Bruff, Ron Roggé, Nicole Dionne
Mia (Chelsea Gilligan) is struggling to sell her metal sculptures to local galleries. Until Mia gets a break, she must rely on her boyfriend Ray (Todd Julian) for financial support; but he is too much of a goofball to hold down a job. They live with Ray’s cousin, who eventually hooks Ray up with a courier gig for a highly secretive company. At first it seems ridiculous that this company would trust someone with Ray’s carefree demeanor, but it turns out that they are probably just preying on his naiveté.
A bold and sudden jump to a parallel narrative about Emmett (Norman Lesperance) feels like an entirely different film. For the majority of this new narrative thread, it seems as though the only connection between Emmett, Mia and Ray is their financial hardship. Serving as a contemplation of how financial pressures can prompt people to make poor life choices, Bradley W. Ragland’s Looking for Lions tells concurrent stories of two men who have been given no other options but to take life-altering risks, putting themselves in compromising situations that could very feasibly destroy their futures. Ray and Emmett are struggling to provide for their significant others. Out of pure desperation, they fixate on escaping their present dilemmas with little consideration of the all-too-likely aftermaths.
Looking for Lions begins as a subtle indie romance observing the economic pressure weighing heavily upon the two young lovers. Once the story jumps to Emmett, the tone and narrative focus of the film becomes far too haphazard and confusing. As the film settles nicely into a tense, dark thriller in the final act, memories of the whole midsection of Looking for Lions become all the more frustrating. Edited in a different structure, Looking for Lions might have been a much stronger film.