Two women, with differing degrees of success, travel north from Los Angeles to Big Sur for a weekend vacation. Both see the trip as an opportunity to reconnect after years of competition and... Read allTwo women, with differing degrees of success, travel north from Los Angeles to Big Sur for a weekend vacation. Both see the trip as an opportunity to reconnect after years of competition and jealousy have driven a wedge between them.Two women, with differing degrees of success, travel north from Los Angeles to Big Sur for a weekend vacation. Both see the trip as an opportunity to reconnect after years of competition and jealousy have driven a wedge between them.
Practically right from the get-go there is a palpable undercurrent of barely repressed tension between the two girls. Takal creates and sustains a venomous vibe here, ratcheting it up by means of rapid fire subliminal suggestion editing from Zach Clark and a consistently discomforting music under bed supplied by Michael Montes, all coming together with wicked ferocity to inject intensely ominous pulsations of alarming foreshadowing.
Lawrence Michael Levine (Takal's husband who also appears in the film) has composed a story heavy in it's apparent message that the fairer of the sex's is painfully complicit in consistently falling victim to the predatory machinations of men, particularly in the conform or be cast out world of Hollywood. And to this end, you will no doubt note that Takal teasingly, and quite purposefully, tantalizes her audience with, yet never completely gives in for even a split second to, gratuitous nudity involving her comely co-stars. (No, sir. Not in THIS chick's flick, buster.) Levine takes the driving theme to expressly existential places, such as in a scene where the anger-afflicted Anna aggressively challenges a guy who is participating in a "Men's Retreat", asking him if a similar event comprised of women would meet with a comparative degree of acceptance and embracement. The writer's point is certainly a potent one, if not overplayed across all manner of societal discourse, both public and private. The premise of the female gender as historically and unconscionably under appreciated, minimized and even nullified stands firmly on it's own, and demands no call for validation from me nor anyone else. However, the "solution" to the issue as proposed in Levine's script is as demoralizing as it is simplistic. Not to the alarming degree of severity we come to realize in "Always Shine", obviously. But in essence, and from a euphemistic perspective, is this, then, the ONLY way matters can ever truly be settled? Don't we, most of us of reasonably pragmatic sensibility leastways, believe that women as a community of spirit and souls are far better, and one whole helluva lot STRONGER, than that? Lord, let's hope so.
I was looking for, and fully expecting, a more jarring conclusion than Takal opts to give us in the final moments of "Always Shine". Still, such as it is, these lyrics from the Talking Heads satirical classic rocker "Once in a Lifetime" initially sprung to mind for me: "My GOD!! What have I DONE??!!" But then, as the screen cut abruptly to black and the credits rolled, a very different, perhaps even more troubling, interpretation occurred to me: Is it all merely, and in faithful accord with the overarching nature of the narrative, "just an act"?
- Nov 27, 2016