Living In Missouri is a comedy of manners which tells the story of RYAN, AMY, and TODD, whose humdrum Midwestern lives are starting to come apart at the seams. Personal betrayals abound ...
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Living In Missouri is a comedy of manners which tells the story of RYAN, AMY, and TODD, whose humdrum Midwestern lives are starting to come apart at the seams. Personal betrayals abound when childhood friendships, broken-down marriages, and long-repressed desires come into conflict over the course of one tumultuous Missouri autumn. Ryan and Todd have been best friends since the 7th grade, and time has not been kind to either of them. Ryan is now married to Amy, with two young children and a 9-to-5 job he hates. The sexually frustrated Todd still lives in the basement of his parents' house, works in a video store, and secretly envies Ryan's married life. Meanwhile, Amy is stuck in the middle, balancing career and family with almost no help from Ryan, whose selfish behavior is quickly destroying what's left of their marriage. When Amy secretly turns to Todd for a shoulder to cry on, the two of them begin meeting regularly to discuss her marital woes. Todd misinterprets Amy's attention ... Written by
According to an interview with the director, Shaun Peterson, the movie is loosely based on an online persona Connor Ratliff created, named Ryan Johnson, for a fake Star Wars rumors site in 1998, when the Star Wars prequels were in production. Ratliff spun a fictional family around the Ryan character to such depth that he soon realized he had created viable characters for a film, and proceeded to write the story of Ryan Johnson, Amy Johnson, and his friend Todd. See more »
Interesting characters, good editing, bad cinematography.
I was lucky enough to see the film and talk to the director and editor in one of my classes at UCSC, where Shaun Peterson is an alum. I felt the movie held its own as an interesting black comedy, especially for only $7,500.
Its on-screen strength comes from Ian McConnel, who plays the unsure buddy of the jerk, Ryan Johnson (played by writer/co-producer Connor Ratliff). McConnel is able to successfully propel this pathetic character into a believable protagonist which the entire film centers itself around, despite having considerably less screen time than Christina Puzzo and Connor Ratliff, who gave good performances as the other two main characters.
The dialogue fluctuates in quality, sometimes going off into tangents on entertainment trivia, creating more of an annoyance than a motif, even though I could relate to much of what was being said. There are, however, some very genuine moments of pause and revelation between the three main characters which deserve some praise.
I enjoyed the DV aesthetic in such films as 28 Days Later and Dancer in the Dark, but I really disliked the cinematography of this movie. Camera movement was hyperactive and the lack of proper focus went beyond stylistic (see Belly for this) to the realm of plain amateurishness. I felt as if the cinematographer and director, in lieu of simply comprising with the DV aesthetic, threw most of photographic theory out the window to the point where it detracted from the awesome performances.
The editing, however, was very spot on. Pacing, both structurally and within scenes, kept things at a good clip throughout, which is why I think this film was able to get to the next level of maturity, away from common amateur film and towards something more enjoyable.
For a reference, I could describe this as a mix between Election (dir. Alexander Payne) and Clerks (dir. Kevin Smith).
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