The wide open desert air, the harsh arid sun, the endless views and expectant lulls. And a young woman and young man meeting and connecting in a way neither of them expected, isolated together, almost giddy with happiness. This is the movie at its best, and it's pure magic. Director Diane Bell's only film (so far) is an improbable indie surprise, beautifully photographed and paced.
Michael Piccinilli plays George, a man who is so withdrawn and bookish, and so utterly retro tapping away at a manual typewriter (and going to the library to use its computer) he's almost unapproachable. But he's completely likable (the actor was voted most eligible man in Australia), and you can understand his cause--celebrating and preserving all the things that are going obsolete around us, the old digital manual world.
Gaynor Howe plays Sophie, a warm, exuberant, charming woman who meets George and sees his vulnerability, and she starts to get George to see how empty his life is. Gently, and with beautiful sincerity, she gets him to open up and discover his larger self, just a little, and so the movie is about their brief time together and a deep bonding. If you can connect to these two characters, you'll love the majority of the movie. Howe is terrific in her only film to date, and she and Piccinilli have genuine, if unusual, chemistry.
There is another, too large aspect to the film which gets in the way a little, and that's a political commentary about global warming. Not that there is a clear stance, but there is a third character, not so briefly, who we are supposed to think is some kind of gifted scientist gone hermit in the desert who has predicted the earth's climatic doom. It's not that we don't believe him (or do), it's more just thin science and a bit of repetition as the idea gets stated and re-stated in different ways. I got so interested in the couple I really wanted less and less to think about the hot dry future, especially in a kind of dumbed down way. It is the one core weakness in a disarming, sweet, and unusual film.
And the ending will surprise you. It's perfect, and seems to just unfold, like the best of the film does in scene after hot scene.
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