' ' Cinema Romantico: CIFF Review: Black Pond

Monday, October 15, 2012

CIFF Review: Black Pond

A therapist, broadly played by Simon Amstell, explains to his emotionally fractured patient that if you were to take all the colors of the universe and blend them you would merely be left with a kind of arid grey. "Black Pond", co-directed by Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe, is a film of evocative colors haphazardly blended together that wishes to reach a genuinely poignant moment in spite of the ceaseless quirkiness and occasional filmmaking tricks. It doesn't quite get there. In the end, "Black Pond" is just sort of an arid grey.

Tom (Chris Langham), the not entirely respected head of the Thompson household, has lost the three-legged family dog, blandly named Boy, on a walk when he meets Blake (Colin Hurley), the sort whose bushy beard seems to exist solely to distract you from his crazy eyes. They chat and despite Blake's apparent mental unbalance, Tom invites him back home for tea. Blake accepts. Tea turns into dinner with Tom's wife Sophie (Amanda Hadingue) and dinner turns into Blake spending the night.

And when misfortune involving Boy strikes, more misfortune will occur and The Thompson family finds itself being branded murderers of their unique houseguest. This is not a spoiler. This is revealed immediately, primarily because "Black Pond" is filmed in a mockumentary format with talking head confessionals sprinkled throughout. The very nature of this device suggests we are seeing the story through the lens of each respective character, which could potentially account for its wildly shifting tones, except the family seems unified on just what happened.

Rather "Black Pond" comes across like the work of new filmmakers with specific scenes and bits and moments and music in mind but not necessarily the roadmap to reach a cathartic and satisfying conclusion.

The best thing in the film is the performance of Chris Langham, an actor with whom I am not familiar but who I learned afterwards has been out of work for several years on account of, shall we say, personal trauma. We will excise that from this movie-only discussion, however, and instead say that Langham cultivates a character who has drifted into a listless life and seems to believe that doing one good deed, however untraditional and odd to the general public, could offer at least a momentary sense of redemption.

It's a great germ of an idea that is just isn't satisfactorily translated for a full 90 minutes.

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