Rooftop Films 2015
By Don Simpson | July 13, 2015
Director: Frank V. Ross
Writer: Frank V. Ross
Starring: James Ransone, Alexia Rasmussen, Alex Karpovsky
Lonnie (James Ransone) is a thirty-something guy whose life quickly became stilted after high school graduation. Seemingly content to paint houses with his friend Chuck (Alex Karpovsky) for the rest of his life, Lonnie regularly bellies up to the local watering hole in an attempt to forget his boring life. For all intents and purposes, Lonnie is an average working class guy from a nondescript Chicago suburb who is either too lazy, depressed or unmotivated to escape the repetitive mundanity of his “same shit, different day” kind of life.
Monica (Alexia Rasmussen) is a twenty-something administrative assistant where Lonnie works. Lonnie’s attraction to Monica serves as a catalyst which prompts him to try to break some of his bad habits. From the get-go it seems like a relationship between Monica and Lonnie will never work. As soon as they start hooking up, Monica and Lonnie lose the flirtatious chatter they used to enjoy around the office. Now there is no chemistry or spark, and spending time together has become a chore.
Frank V. Ross’ Bloomin Mud Shuffle is an anti-relationship film, not because it protests against Monica and Lonnie’s relationship, but because the narrative focuses almost entirely on their time apart. Ross’ film glances over their time together; instead, we observe Monica and Lonnie in their separate environments as they work, visit family, and hang out with friends. As we get to know their personalities it becomes increasingly apparent that Monica and Lonnie are not a good fit for each other. Bloomin Mud Shuffle is an indie romance without a romance; a film about two people who will most likely never become a couple. As an examination of the disconnection of modern relationships, Bloomin Mud Shuffle indirectly discusses the economic impact on his characters’ working class lives.
Irregardless of Lonnie’s disdain for the eternal relevancy of Seinfeld references, Bloomin Mud Shuffle is essentially a film about nothing — not that there is anything wrong with that. Ross crafts a structurally complex narrative that unfolds with poetic finesse, capturing two characters shuffling through their never-changing lives. The circular plot of Bloomin Mud Shuffle is dizzying and disorienting, like Groundhog Day for Millennial slackers. Ross is so in tune with his characters that they never seem written or contrived. There is a natural breath and rhythm to the scenes; even when Bloomin Mud Shuffle takes sudden timeline jumps, the narrative continues to flow seamlessly. Ross’ directorial adroitness suggests a mature auteurism that is extremely rare in American lo-fi, micro-budget cinema.
Bloomin Mud Shuffle screened as part of the Rooftop Films 2015 Summer Series, and hopefully it will be appearing at other film festivals in the near future. If you are unfamiliar with Ross’ films, most of them are currently available to watch on Fandor.