Saturday, June 3, 2023

Pratfall (2023) Brooklyn Film Festival 2023

PRATFALL stars Chloé Groussard and Joshua Burge  as Joelle and Eli. Eli is reeling from the loss of his mother and his girlfriend in short order. Unable to fully cope he has become an insomniac. He collides with Joelle a French tourist who is lost in Central Park and wants to see the city.

I'm kind of stuck on how to review this film. It's not that the film is bad, it is far from that, rather there are couple of things in this film that if I discuss them may make it seem I hate the film, which is far from the case. The reality is this is a really good film that is going to delight anyone who wants to see a film that could never get made in the studio system.

What makes the film so difficult to review is that Joshua Burge as Eli is a tough fellow to be around. A guy who has been through the ringer and then some , Eli has a perpetual thousand yard stare and is clearly a broken individual. You pity him, and you kind of like him, but he can be rather off putting in the extreme. I knew several guys like Eli and it made me sit up.

Frankly it's one of the best performances I've seen this year. If Burge and the film were a bit bigger and could get a campaign up and running I could see the performance getting some year end love. On the other hand it's possible that this masterful turn might keep voters away. Which is a bitch since by the time the film ends Burge has broken our hearts in the best sort of way. Burge's performance is the reason I love small inde films, it's the performances that are closer to real than we normally get.

The other thing that makes it hard to review PRATFALL is how it is shot. Because this is almost not a narrative but a character study director Alex Andre has shot pretty much the entire film as a series of close ups. We are firmly in the faces of Joelle and (especially) Eli the entire film. There are few if any wide shots, instead we are always up close and personal with the two main characters. A face or two faces fill the screen. It's claustrophobic. I know why it was done, however at the same time it can make the film tough to watch as we want to disengage with what is happening and take stock, that isn't possible.  This film is literally in your face and it can be tough to watch.

That said if you are adventurous and if you can go with the film on it's own terms PRATFALL is worth a look, especially for Joshua Burge's performance.

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