Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Frownland at Northwest Film Forum

I saw Frownland some months ago as a festival screener, and couldn't help myself from enjoying it. It's depressing. It's sad. But in the end, it's a fascinating portrait of a lonely man hemmed in both by his own deep anxieties and by the uncaring society around him.

The protagonist, Keith Sontag, is a loner, a stutterer, a soft-talker - the kind of "time-waster" you instinctively attempt to ignore at all costs. As you watch everyone in his life belittle and marginalize him, however, your judgment flips: Keith's own self-awareness stands in sharp contrast to the self-involvement of these others. Every one of them is lost, but Keith's the only one who knows it.

The final 20 minutes is a descent into near-madness that's hard to endure. If you want lighter fare, NWFF is also showing The Landlord, the first in their Hal Ashby series.