I should preface this review by saying that I go to Midnight showings at the Sundance Film Festival, not because I love losing sleep, but because I am really looking forward to a solid film and I have high hopes for it. I’ve seen some really bad ones (The Signal) and some really good ones (Cold in July).
The first Midnight film this year was Bushwick. It took a lot to get to this film coming from another, racing across town to get to it in time, finding out I thought it was at the Egyptian Theater and finding out it was at The Library. But…I got there in time and was pleasantly surprised to see Dave Bautista and Brittany Snow had made it in time to see me as well along with Co-Directors Jonathan Millot and Cary Murnion.
It’s not frequent that a film is co-directed, but…there are good reasons for it sometimes. In the case of Bushwick, after the film, cast and crew alike took to the stage again (except Dave Bautista who had to go catch a very early flight to get back in time to film Avengers 3) and it made sense that there were co-directors here.
The film was shot in very long continuous shots (most were 12-15 minutes long) where the cameraman follows the relentless action around on foot without pause.
The concept is interesting, but…there is a reason it’s rarely done in films with much larger budgets than this one (i.e. Goodfellas). In this case, the story suffered in many aspects. I was not impressed with the shots of stairs and streets as the cameraman is following the actors across the city terrain. When the cameraman moves around the actors, I was sometimes treated to cyclone fences and walls for undetermined amounts of time. It was distracting and took me out of the action.
The character development was somewhat out of sequence and I didn’t feel like it was developed throughout the film enough for me to really care for the main character’s relationship. I think the filmmakers knew this because of an extended conversation between the two in a laundromat that felt hurried and forced.
On the bright side, this film felt like sort of a coming out of sorts for Brittany Snow. Her character was really the primary arc of the story and she got to stretch her acting wings. Since the film was done in long shots, much of the dialogue was made up as they went along. Not an easy thing to do. Most of the time the actors did well with it, but…there were other times where the dialogue came across campy.
Sound was prevalent in this film. Much of the fear came from the noise outside and the explosions you didn’t see, but heard. Dust falling from the ceiling and lights flickering brought a sense of urgency. It definitely felt like the city was coming apart.
What bothered me most was the crowd’s reaction. They laughed at times during scenes that were not supposed to invoke laughter. And they didn’t at times they should have. When that happens, it’s not a good sign. The ending was confusing, but…and will not do the film any favors in the distribution department.
I love the ambitiousness of the film and the concept is interesting, but the extended shots (only shot once) caused the story to suffer. Granted, Midnight audiences are quite different and somewhat fickle. They want what they want. I just didn’t get what I was hoping for.