|Index||3 reviews in total|
Reality of Life is a good independent film and is a surprisingly
well-done directorial debut. The film is heavy on dialog and that is
one of the main problems. The title suggests a realism that is felt in
the film; however the repetition we have in actual life doesn't
translate as well on a screen. Although realism was a goal, an audience
expects and needs a little more to keep them interested. Howard's
writing keeps us in the moment but it misses opportunities to make
those moments more special and it's a shame.
The leads Layten and Jindra are very good in their roles but it's hard for us to be involved in their characters' personalities as much. We want them to be more interesting and their love story to really pull us in. Unfortunately the two characters seeing something in each other isn't always enough for us as an audience to be engrossed in the relationship too. We need something to invest us into them as well so we know exactly who they are, what they're feeling, and why it's so important to them. It's the second half of the film (and especially near the end) that this starts to happen more but by that time we're just getting warmed up, it's almost over. They play the parts very well though and the end scenes are their greatest. The supporting role Howard plays is the most complicated and I can see why Howard would want it for himself. He plays the humor very well and we start to care for his character more as we see the struggle that slowly builds throughout and his jokes no longer hide the fact that he's a sensitive person. It's a nice arc and Howard plays the drama greatly and is very impressive. Bousquet and Porter are also very good but have very little screen time. Some of the other actors are where the quality of the film is lost a little.
The cinematography is wonderful and Bull really makes moments shine. The editing is fairly unobtrusive and adds a realistic element to the film. The music works for the most part with the orchestral score being a high point. The ending and even the main plot is something I will not reveal here as it's better to let it unfold, but there were several places I thought I could tell what was going to happen, and I was wrong each time. The last 20 minutes of the film is worth the price of admission alone. Unfortunately, the beginning and middle are slower paced and it takes us a while to get more into it. The idea is great; the execution just needed a little more oomph. There are some very powerful scenes throughout and if the whole film held us like those did, it would be much better.
Though this film is flawed in places and could use some writing editing, it's a nice effort and leaves us with a touching film that makes you think a little bit. I hope that his film is something he can expand his talent on and really impress us with his future work. I think there can be some great things ahead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Unfortunately, this film seems to be unavailable for purchase anywhere.
More than likely, it was never released for public sale, which is a
shame because it's definitely worth seeing. I saw this film in October
of 2002 at a screening via the University of Colorado in Colorado
Springs. I later caught some of Micheal Howard's other works like
"Pushed" and "Nemesis Rising". All excellent work by a dedicated and
talented film student. After the student screening of "Reality of Life"
there was a Q&A session with director/writer/actor Micheal Howard. I'm
glad I got the chance to see his film and hear him talk about his
film-making experience. I sincerely hope I get the chance to see this
film again as well as some of Micheal Howard's future works.
Micheal Howard knows very well how harsh the reality of life can be. His first full-length film, "Reality of Life," explores the unfairness of life and its multitude of struggles. What is most remarkable about this film is the fact that it was written, directed, and produced by Howard, a student at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. He also played the essential supporting role of Jason and produced the film on a $12,000 budget. His life savings at the time. Only cinematographer Justin Bull was paid because Howard wanted someone with professional experience involved. Most of the budget went to equipment costs. Everyone else involved worked for nothing.
Starting the project back in February of 2001, Howard originally thought of doing only a trailer for the script, though he later decided making the entire film was just as doable. The actual shooting for the film was done entirely in Colorado Springs during July of 2001 and took 20 days to complete.
The film originally premiered at Centennial Hall in May of 2002. It depicts two best friends, Spencer and Jason. Spencer's the levelheaded, respectable type, while Jason is a little more wild and reckless. They're planning on being partners in a business venture. They're the kind of best buds that wouldn't let anything get between them. Then Spencer meets Sarah. He's smitten and they hit it off, but she won't let them get past being pals who talk over the phone for hours on end. He can't understand why and gets frustrated with her. Why won't she go out with him? What's she hiding? Will they ever hook up and find happiness?
A little more than half way into the film, we learn what's troubling Sarah and we sympathize. Spencer, being the nice guy that he is and because he genuinely cares for her, does what he has to do to make the relationship work. Jason, feeling left out, gets jealous. We can envision their impending fate but Howard dismisses all guesses with a few surprising twists. You'll have to watch the film to learn more. I don't want to give anymore away and spoil it for you.
The reality of the "Reality of Life" is that life can be beautiful, terrible, and strange. A tag line for the film states that friendships, relationships, and love are about to be put to the test. And indeed they are. The film captures the veracity of real life situations and what makes us human. It reveals how complex life can get when people get involved in a relationship.
This film hardly has the look and feel of a student work. The narrative is good at capturing those awkward, uncomfortable moments of new-love relationships. There are several humorous moments that keep the audience amused. Skillful lighting and composition give the film a professional quality. Smooth editing makes the film flow effortlessly. Accomplished and competent acting succeeds in keeping your attention. The audience certainly stays captivated through the film.
There is practically an endless amount organization and dedication to making a successful film. Howard considers the endeavors on his film a priceless learning experience and the groundwork to be able to move on to bigger and better things. Largely happy with the film, Howard planned to enter "Reality of Life" in film festivals and hopefully find a distributor. Keep your eyes on Michael Howard and don't be surprised if you see his name in a major hit film.
Anyone who goes into an independent film expecting a New Line Production will ultimately be let down. A TRUE independent film works with the scraps they can afford and does the best with what's available. Reality of Life may not have had the best sound equipment and their lighting was a touch weak in spots. Sure the leads had weak scenes, it happens. In reality (no pun intended), this film isn't perfect, in fact it's far from. However, it's the story and the characters that make this movie good, not great, good. For those of you who are willing to simply shove it aside and give it a '1' rating, I urge you to watch again, and pay attention to it, I promise you'll reconsider and raise that rating up a few digits.
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