Sunday, April 28, 2019
Nate Hood's 400 words on ONLY (2019) Tribeca 2019
His new film Once, the product of that road trip, is set in a world stricken by a mysterious pandemic that kills women in a matter of days. Exactly 400 days after the plague first hits, two lovers, Will (Leslie Odom, Jr.) and Eva (Freida Pinto), leave their hermetically-sealed apartment-cum-quarantine for the wilderness. Despite their best efforts, Eva contracted the disease and, with less than a week to live, she makes Will take her to a state park so they can visit a waterfall from their past.
It’s a film of many virtues but one near fatal flaw. First, the virtues. Sci-fi stories about a suddenly barren humanity facing extinction are nothing new—Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s comic book series Y: The Last Man (2002-2008) and Alfonso Caurón’s Children of Men (2006) stand as the sub-genre’s exemplars—but Doscher proves himself a deft hand at world-building. Despite a few requisite GoPro shots of digitally edited cityscapes, Doscher limits his views of the apocalypse from Will and Eva’s perspective, shooting almost entirely in medium shots or close-ups with them either in the mid or foreground. We get only snatches of the world outside their apartment or minivan: reports of a mysterious comet, whispers of a government “repopulation” program, radio warblings of nascent doomsday cults, chat rooms for surviving women with dwindling user bases. The non-linear storytelling might prove frustrating at first, but by the third act it pays incredible emotional dividends.
Now, the crippling fault. Despite essentially being a tragic meditation on the selfishness and salvation of romance with a heart-breaking twist ending, Doscher made the mistake of shooting it as a thriller, adding an eye-rolling cat-and-mouse chase in the last thirty minutes between Eva and Will and a father/son duo who hunt women. It’s predictable, annoying, unnecessary. If Doscher edited out the thriller parts, he’d have an eighty minute triumph.