Sunday, October 21, 2018

DTLA Film Festival: All Creatures Here Below

I had the chance to attend a few screenings from the 10th Annual Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival, which ran from October 17th-21st.

All Creatures Here Below
Directed by Collin Schiffli
Screened October 18th

Two people who don’t see the world the same way may still possess an incredible loyalty to one another, defensive and protective to the very end even if they can’t comprehend how the other experiences life. Sometimes, a difference in perspective is crucial to the bond between the two, since it allows them to see just what’s missing for the other, be it bravery, compassion, or anything else. Depending on someone else for a personality trait that is lacking can also create a need for symbiosis, where one can’t possibly hope to survive without the other.

Gensan (David Dastmalchian) works as a cook at a fast food pizza restaurant, supporting Ruby (Karen Gillan), whose social anxieties make her holding down a job difficult. When Gensan is let go as his restaurant prepares to close, he tries to score big with a bet on a chicken fight that turns violent, resulting in him stealing a car and going on the run. When he goes to pick up Ruby, he is shocked to discover that she has taken away a baby from her inattentive mother, giving them an additional obstacle on their getaway. As Gensan heads towards Kansas City, a source of past trauma for both him and Ruby, he struggles to see a happy end in sight for their new family of three.

The devotion that Gensan and Ruby have to each other is this film’s strongest selling point, since it’s clear that their relationship means everything to them, even if Ruby is hopeless to listen to what Gensan tells her and Gensan doesn’t always react to Ruby’s antics in the most polite or overtly supportive manner. Their journey is one that quickly demonstrates just how unequipped both are to thrive and succeed in this world, trapped for so long in a small bubble of poverty and barely getting by that has deceived them into thinking they can handle whatever life throws at them.

Gillian is a versatile actress whose ability to blend seamlessly into this role is impressive, even if it isn’t altogether realistically written. Dastmalchian, who wrote the film, has crafted for himself a somewhat more believable character, though he too doesn’t feel entirely genuine. This film, which is reminiscent at times of recent film festival standouts “Heaven Knows What” and “Back Roads,” bases itself on a premise that never feels true or sustainable. It’s a dismal and depressing ride, one that doesn’t ultimately offer anything rewarding for either its characters or its audience.


No comments: