Riggs is in his late twenties, has a good job, great friends and family, but something is missing in his life. When his father suddenly dies of a heart attack, we see how Riggs and his closest friends try to ensure that their lives each mean something to them through a series of emotional events, complex relationships and hilarious situations that occur amongst lifelong friends and their significant others. Written by
Sometimes the freedom to make choices traps the best of us
Swift shot: First, I screened this at a local Art and Culture Center, and I wasn't sure what to expect, I had no studio notes, no actor's bios, nor synopsis, I was completely void of any prior knowledge of this film. I must say, I wasn't expecting to be so moved by an independent film, shot locally with almost no budget a REAL independent film, not something punched out by Hollywood from one of their cookie-cutter "indie" studios this was the real deal, local guys and gals putting in late hours for no guarantee of a payoff and no comfy studio contract to keep them warm at night. Yet, Quarterlifers is on par with a big-budget studio presentation, save for a few minor places for improvement which can be easily over-looked.
The characters grow on you, you identify with them or perhaps you know a few of them. Either way, they were genuine and you either loved them or loathed them, I didn't find myself apathetic to their circumstances once. That credit goes to the whole crew, not just Writer/Director/Actor Adam Fortner who served as the almighty substance that kept everything together without his loyal team, really delivering solid work, the whole thing would have come across as some kind of amateurish flop. This was no flop! Quarterlifers is on the surface a story of four mid-twenties friends (thus the title - for the cheap seats), who are each trying to figure out that simple, yet terrifying, question what the hell do I want to do with my life? The primary focus is on Riggs (Adam Fortner) who majored in Criminal Psychology, because hey, aren't we all gonna be hunting serial killers for the FBI? But reality soon sets in after college and he finds himself a skilled speech writer for a campaign team trying to get Matthew Gibson (Bobby Dodge) elected to Congress.
Riggs is flanked by his cast of loyalists: the stooge, Jason, played marvelously by Lincoln Potwin whose character provides both serious and incredibly funny moments throughout. At one point I was thinking, hey, what about Jason, and voila, Fortner read my mind. Closely following Jason in my personal preference pecking order was Ryan (Roy Lynam) who actually does what a lot of us want to do after college but are too "responsible" he buys his local billiards bar and tries to run it on a shoe-string budget, he was a character I certainly identified with for that reason alone. Closing out the lead male cast is the more complex character of the three supporting roles, Derek, who (I am not spoiling anything here) you will find yourself hating in the beginning. But, he just may surprise you. Derek was played very effectively by Andrew Roth, who I was not surprised to learn has 30 notch-marks already in the industry.
Riggs is going through a soul-searching time as the film takes off, having just broken up with his steady girlfriend, who most of his family "really liked" he is also trying to get Gibson elected while working for a stern, yet respectful task-master in campaign manager Michael whose casting I thought was superb, because Richard Haylor looked tough as nails but even in the short amount of screen-time, Fortner gives him the chance to really develop as a character through his dialog. I really hope to see Haylor in more films, and I am sure Fortner would re-cast him, because the performance he gave was just genuine and incredibly believable.
Finally, Riggs' "Dad", the sage, wise patriarch of the entire band of merry men was portrayed by Rick Montgomery, Jr. What I liked about "Dad" was how he seemed equally comfortable at work as he was at home giving his son one of those amazing talks that only great dads really can deliver, all while failing miserably on XBox.
Notice a pattern yet? Right, the review is a bit male-centric, well, the film was also heavy on the testosterone, but Fortner managed to give depth to the female characters while they might not have had much screen time to play with. Riggs' sister, Emily (Keri Maletto) provides a quirky reality to balance Riggs overtly serious tones, yet also serves as a true loving sister and has a pivotal scene later in the film that I really felt.
Jason's girlfriend Angela (Carolina Insua) keeps your attention in every scene, the physicality of her performance was subtle yet incredibly effective, as she harasses Jason to seek more at work and from life. Jennifer (Millie Capellan) performs admirably as Ryan's wife who wants him to succeed but not at the cost of their marriage. Riggs' ex-girlfriend Claire (Miranda Khan) helps put things in Riggs' life into focus as life delivers him a harsh scratch. Finally, there is Riggs' mother, played by Marilyn Carlisle who is always there for her children with a hot meal, even at 25, and a shoulder for whenever it is needed.
What happens in this film? Is it all just a bunch of fluff and no circumstance with interesting characters who don't face any real challenges other than the clichéd why am I here, what should I be doing, etc etc etc? I am not going to tell you what happens in the film, I will say this, the story will get to you, it is about life, the choices we make, the actions that define us, the words we choose and how they cast us in a mold to the world whether they be true or facades that we show to the world. It is a film about friendship, loyalty, the truth about what defines love and loneliness. It is a lighthearted punch in the gut much like life!
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