GF5 Reviews ...AROUND
...Around is the first feature from East Village filmmaker David Spaltro. Self-financed on 40 credit cards, the story behind ...Around echoes a moviemaking story that inspired many of us who came of age in the early 90s. Kevin Smith, the love of my moviegoing life, financed his 1994 debut, Clerks, with the help of a bunch of credit cards. But even this diehard Kevin Smith fan has to admit that, on many, many levels (if not all), ...Around is a superior film. And I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to tell you why that is.
Smith’s film is about two slackers who supposedly want out of their shitty situations, but who never really do much to get themselves out. Clerks is really about what happens when nothing happens, or, to be more precise, when you don’t make anything happen, when you don’t even try.
Spaltro’s film, by contrast, is about a kid who’s trying to make something happen all of time, trying, and trying again when he fails. Doyle Simms doesn’t just bitch about the particulars of his life—though, like any twenty-something, he does that a little—he does everything in his power to break free from the situation he’s been born into, a situation that, when examined, feels a lot more stifling to me than the environment Dante Hicks was trying to work his way out of. A frustrated, frustrating, unloving mother and no real place to call home—I think it’d be hard to watch this film and not agree that Doyle’s problems feel a lot more heavy than jockeying a convenience store cash register ever did.
Though, what’s funny to me is that, early on, ...Around features a scene that takes place at Doyle’s job in what looks to be a convenience store. The key difference: when an attractive girl with a problem wanders up to his register, Doyle doesn’t fuck it up like Dante would. Doyle actually makes something happen (however unintentionally).
Enough with the Clerks comparisons, though. Let’s talk about the film as its own entity.
I think the films themes are summed up nicely in the narration of the student film Doyle presents as his senior thesis.
I just want to go back… I just want to go back and do each of these moments again. I just want to do it again. But you can’t go back.
This is almost a cliché, this desire to go back and relive life. But what makes it such an original take on the whole thing, at least to my mind, is the omission of the oft-heard bit about doing something different, about changing the past. Doyle doesn’t seem to want to go back in order to change the outcome of his life. His desire seems to be more about going back to catch the bits of feeling that he missed the first time around.
It’s the core dilemma of the storyteller, or at least of the storyteller who draws from his own life. The reason that many of us make films or write books based on our own lives is because we feel like we’ve lived through a story that’s worth returning to, a story that we didn’t understand completely our first time through.
So, ...Around is a film that’s about storytelling. It’s set in a city of a thousand stories, a million maybe. And the film’s cast of players capture the pain and pleasure of telling stories pitch-perfectly in nearly every scene. Robert Evans’s performance as Doyle is the glue that holds the film together. Molly Ryman’s Allyson is the lamp post illuminating the increasingly dark landscape of our protagonist’s life. And Marcel Torres plays the sidekick role as well as any actor I’ve seen. His portrayal of Doyle’s lifelong wingman Logic is at turns both funny and intense.
The film’s best scenes feel more like a documentary than a dramatic performance. There are moments when I feel like I’m eavesdropping on conversations, when I’m peering through a hidden camera watching real people dealing with absolutely real struggles. Absolutely heartbreaking, too.
And I love that the film constantly surprises me. There are moments where it sticks pretty closely to convention, but those moments are almost always preceded or followed by surprisingly unique turns.
If I was forced to find fault with the film—and you really would have to twist my arm—I would say that the performances of Doyle’s parents felt out-of-place at times. They were always a bit too over the top for my tastes.
But it’s definitely a film worth seeing. Check the film’s Website to learn more about how you might do that.