09 October 2010
A personal note: director and co-writer Michael Mohan sent (or had his e-signature at the bottom of) my first congratulatory You're-A-Finalist email from the Sundance Institute, as well as the rejection email which inevitably followed. Plus, he's a friend of my good friend Dave. Although I've never met the man or corresponded with him personally, I feel a weird sort of... not kinship, but acquaintance with him. He's also just made his first incredibly indie, self-distributed feature debut, and everything about this feels like the kind of thing I could do if I really devoted myself to it. So it's inspirational and it's the project of a friend-once-removed; my point is, I went in really wanting One Too Many Mornings to be great, and really worried about if I'd like it or not.
I did like it. I liked it a lot.
It's got a great raw first-film energy. It's sleek and economical and never wastes your time, and the characters have a lived-in rhythm, a way of talking to each other that feels realistic, if not always real. The two main characters never bore me, even when they frustrate me to no end, and their relationship evolves organically. The shots are good looking and the editing and structure is tight. This is a good model for a successful first film. In fact, I have some filmmaker friends I'm going to have to show this to for that very reason. It's not flawless -- some scenes and a couple of the actors and actresses aren't quite convincing -- but it's never enough to bring the movie down. It contributes to that kind of rawness for me.
More than once I felt a scene had to surely be over by now, but it lingered, and another layer was revealed or another unexpected turn (even if just an unexpected gag) would arise and keep the story chugging, and the wait would be worth it. Occasionally that would lend to a sort of feeling of artificial rhythm; I have to admit it comes off as very self-consciously cut from indie-film cloth. And in this case I truly mean that as a compliment: it lives up to what those words should mean. The only other film made in the last couple of years I can think of to say that about that I've seen is Kabluey.
I hope this film succeeds, because I think it deserves to and because it renews my hope in the idea of an indie film being a good indie film. Either way, I bet this isn't Mohan's last film, and that's kind of exciting, because I know a guy who knows that guy. Plus he one time gave me really encouraging and then slightly disappointing (but not surprising) news about my first feature script. In so many ways, Mike Mohan keeps giving me hope. So of course I'm rooting for him.