Sundance 2010 Review: BASS ACKWARDS

GATW Guest Writer

by: GATW Guest Writer
March 4th, 2010

Rating: 7.5/10

Writers: Linas Phillips, Davie-Blue, Jim Fletcher
Director: Linas Phillips
Cast: Linas Phillips, Alex Karpovsky, Davie-Blue, Jim Fletcher
Studio: Furnace Films

Linas (Phillips) is kind of an odd duck. Well, more like…he’s the type of guy everyone kind of hates, but you can’t really put your finger on just why the ill-feelings towards him are so across the board. I know people like that in real life and you probably do too. If you don’t, chances are you are that person...but I digress.

All the negative chickens in Linas’ life have come home to roost as he alienates the girl he’s seeing by, gasp, opening up to her and later finds himself kicked out of his apartment after roommates catch him playfully torturing their kitten. Or maybe it was because the female roommate walked in on him jerking off. In any case, he’s out on his ass and soon begins a long trek from Seattle back to his parent’s house in Boston where he can pull himself together and figure out his life.

Ad-libbed, micro budget, low-fi indie films about slacker, hipster types trying to find their place in the world are nothing new in the current film festival and DVD landscape. And while there’s quite a few, some are just much better than others and BASS ACKWARDS is one of the good ones.

For starters, it looks gorgeous and appears to be done on the RED camera with what seems to be mostly available light. The shooting style is beautiful, but not in love with itself in terms of shots and framing. It maintains a casual, natural feel. I also really enjoyed the realistic acting and actors involved in the film. Like the characters they play (it's hard to tell if they're even acting), they take time to warm up to but soon enough you are excited to see more from them. In BASS ACKWARDS you never know what anyone might say or do and that’s exciting.

While I was admittedly kind of zoning out in the first act of the film, I soon found myself intrigued by Linas’ travels and then found myself engaged by him as well. Constantly (and for good reason) Linas seems like he could snap, and he does. But when he does, it’s not in ways you might expect. The tension lies in the overall weirdness on-screen and Linas’ reaction to these events. It also lies in the interaction he has with various and diverse people and these moments are where the film excels.

His journey, which takes place in a hilarious looking mini-VW bus that tops out at about 50 MPH on the freeway, doesn’t immediately mold him into a new person. Not at all, in fact. As he travels, Linas meets people that are monumentally more strange and damaged than he but these people are leading happy, productive lives. There’s no soliloquy or voice over narration wherein Linas tells us his feelings and there’s no big “light bulb” moment where Linas figures it all out. His change just happens gradually, like it does to most of us in real life.

Mechanic Paul (Lazar) maintains a positive outlook and immense sense of humor even though he has every right to be depressed and miserable when we find out about his past. Later, Linas meets a peculiar mom and her son at a gas station and they bring him home to dinner to meet the even odder patriarch of the family. But what these people have works for them and they’re happy people, generally speaking.

And then there’s Jim (Fletcher) who simply gets into Linas’ van one day and sparks up a friendship. Through the eyes of these sort-of, social misfits, Linas gains a better understanding of himself and his journey takes even more unexpected twists before ending in a way I had hoped it might, but fully expected it wouldn’t. BASS ACKWARDS is a very good film with lots simmering beneath the surface, you just have to be patient enough to see the journey through.

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