After Richard finds out that his best and only friend, a dwarf hamster named Etienne, has terminal cancer, he decides to take his pocket pet on a bicycle road trip to show him the world before he has to put him to sleep.




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Credited cast:
Richard Vallejos ...
Megan Taylor Harvey ...
Man in Coat
Matt Garron ...
Rachel Stolte ...
Solon Bixler ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Diane Alexander ...
Tim Armstrong ...
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Disgruntled Gentleman
Rinalda Caduff ...
One-eyed Woman
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Hostel Clerk


After Richard finds out that his best and only friend, a dwarf hamster named Etienne, has terminal cancer, he decides to take his pocket pet on a bicycle road trip to show him the world before he has to put him to sleep.

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a film about the little things in life





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3 September 2010 (USA)  »

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A great soundtrack can't fix some bad acting
14 June 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is one of the 4 movies I was able to catch at CineVegas this year. I feel that I need to digest the other 3 a little longer before I can write about them. Etienne, however, I could not get out of my head after seeing it--and not in a good way. I am ready to say this movie has a few bright spots but is mostly a waste of time.

I see on IMDb this movie is still considered in "post-production" (and the director prior to the film made some allusion to that as he apologized for the poor-quality transfer he brought to show). Unfortunately, finished or not, there is no hope for fixing this movie.

The bright spots: a fantastic soundtrack, Courtney Halverson (who is on screen for only a few minutes but I was lucky to watch a few hours later in her fine new movie Godspeed which also played at CineVegas), Megan Harvey (who plays Elody and is a major player starting in the 2nd act), and Caveh Zahedi (who plays a pinhole camera enthusiast encountered separately by the two main characters). With a little more exploration on IMDb I see that people I mention above are the only experienced actors on the film. Mizushima also clumsily works Great Northern into the plot but they make up for it by delivering a couple of beautiful tracks.

Which brings us to the reason this movie, despite an endearing setup, had no chance from the beginning: it was full of bad acting in major roles. Those who stand least among all are Richard (the main character! who is on screen nearly the entire film and does not make more than one facial expression), Richard's roommate Matt, and Richard's co-worker/friend Molly (awkward like a baby giraffe).

I've seen good movies with less talent and less eye toward "craft" but those movies only work when they are overflowing with "heart." The people who made this film probably worked very hard. It takes time, money, blood, sweat, etc. But the feeling I was left with after the screening is that they just didn't care enough--like the filmmakers just could not be bothered to try hard and take something seriously.

I guess the lesson for aspiring filmmakers is to think twice before you give your friends with no acting experience a major role in your movie. I'm grateful, at least, to have been introduced to Great Northern.

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