Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Talking Tribeca: 7 Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss by Passing through the Gateway Chosen by the Holy Storsh

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.

7 Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss by Passing through the Gateway Chosen by the Holy Storsh
Directed by Vivieno Caldinelli

Any form of religion can seem crazy in some way. Observant subscribers of even the most mainstream religions may do things on a daily basis that appear extreme, illogical, or completely insane to those unfamiliar with the concepts or unimpressed by the reasoning behind them. Less-supported faiths are often termed cults because of the way in which followers immerse themselves in its teachings to often drastic levels. Usually, cults are the subject of dark thrillers that find innocent would-be adherents becoming trapped with no way out, but it’s also possible to turn that premise into something inherently comical and unapologetically bizarre.

Claire (Kate Micucci) has just moved from Ohio to Los Angeles with her boyfriend Paul (Sam Huntington) to pursue a promising new career. They quickly discover the reason that their freeway-adjacent apartment is so cheap when a devotee of its former inhabitant, Storsh (Taika Waititi), breaks in to commit suicide in their bathtub. This becomes an almost nightly occurrence, with a hapless cop (Dan Harmon) hoping to turn his experiences on the job into a screenplay arriving to shrug and remove the bodies. Claire and Paul begin to find a beauty in the way in which these people choose to end their lives and try to help them along on their journey, which seems harmless enough (aside from the reliable fatalities) until Claire starts to lose it.

Though many elements of this movie are absurd, it’s not entirely haphazard. Storsh’s followers have a routine they must follow, which includes performing a talent before ending their lives, and Claire and Paul eagerly listening to their stories and watching them before giving them a glass of their highly poisonous “Bliss Juice” is endearing to a degree. Storsh’s explanation that someone wouldn’t want to be told that they could eat a pint of ice cream sitting in the freezer seventy-five or eighty years from now as a call to commit suicide is simplistic and mildly amusing, which is a great way to describe much of this very odd film.

Micucci, best known for “Garfunkel and Oates,” “Scrubs,” and other TV supporting roles, is a fantastic fit for this story, quietly bubbly and perky as she searches for a way to express herself. Huntington is well-cast opposite her as the lazy and aimless Paul, and the two characters are obvious choices for susceptibility into this cult. Up until its third act, this film is enjoyable enough, and as it becomes unhinged along with its protagonist, it becomes a bit more difficult to endure. Its classification in the Midnight section of the Tribeca Film Festival is wholly appropriate, and audience members should find the title helpful enough in preparing them for what to expect.


No comments: