Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
How We Got Away With It: The Big Permanent Chill
least when this group of friends gets together, they will not tire our eardrums
with Duran Duran or whoever they were listening to while in college during the mid
1980’s. In fact, most of the clichés of the Big
Chill reunion film are completely side-stepped, starting with the fact most
of Henry’s annual guests do not yet know there is a body on ice in Jon
Lindstrom’s How We Got Away with It (trailer here), which just
released on VOD from Devolver Digital Films and opens theatrically this Friday
in Los Angeles.
cooling his heels in jail for two weeks, Henry walks home to find Sarah has
hung herself in his dining room. Just what his relationship is to her (among
others) will be revealed over time. In the short term, he must clean up before
his old friends arrive. Everyone asks “where’s Sarah,” but accepts his clumsy
evasions. However, Will soon learns better when Henry takes him into his
confidence. For reasons we do not immediately understand, Will agrees to help
Henry with his scheme, even though it inevitably leads to increased tensions
with his secretly pregnant partner, Leigh. Further complicating matters, Det.
Becker keeps sniffing around for the missing Sarah, feeling guilty he ignored
her cry-for-help calls. (Henry is sort off the hook on that score, given the
whole jail thing.)
real question in HWGAWI is whether
the characters will figure out what is going on before the audience pieces
together their backstories. Lindstrom has a maddening habit of withholding
pretty basic info just to stoke the mystery. It is sort of like watching a
heavily redacted episode of Murder She
Wrote. You understand the whodunit is not very complicated, but you’re
missing most of the exposition. Yet, somehow Lindstrom maintains a downright
beguiling vibe. Frankly, it is hard to even get a proper sense of scale for
Henry’s Escher house. It looks rather modest from the street entrance, but from
the beach-side it seems palatial.
Lindstrom has a knack for framing interesting shots and he seems appropriately
cop-like as Becker. McCaleb Burnett does a nice slow burn as Henry and Brianne
Moncrief is pleasantly engaging as Elizabeth, a somewhat younger outsider, whose
presence is never really explained. Most Big
Chill clones would be more satisfying if they ended with a group suicide
pact, but aside from the whiny ex-junkie Ronnie, most of the HWGAWI ensemble comes across as relatively
down-to-earth and behave in a mostly believable manner.
is not a perfect film, but something about it
just festers in the subconscious, days after viewing. That is meant as a
compliment. It is almost worth seeing just to compare to Lindstrom’s next film.
Kind of recommended for those looking for a Rochester-set noir, How We Got Away with It opens this
Friday (5/16) at the Arena Cinema in Hollywood, USA.
Labels: Jon Lindstrom