Dave’s Score: 8.5/10
Let’s be honest for a minute. When you hear about some independent movie that “just hasn’t found its audience”, it’s usually because there’s no audience to find. On rare occasions, however, a really nice film comes along and pretty much defines the term pleasant surprise. Enter …Around.
…Around centers around the story of Doyle Simms (Robert W. Evans). He comes from a poor, broken home in Jersey and he finds a way to get into film school in New York City. He falls in love with a girl(Molly Ryman), life gets complicated and there is resolution at the end. Doesn’t that just sound like most of the crap that hits theaters these days? Well, …Around isn’t your typical crappy movie. I’ve purposely boiled down the story this far just to illustrate how bad a movie like this could be. The great thing is that this isn’t a bad movie at all. This movie is a true find for lovers of film.
I’ve embedded the trailer here becuase the first 20 seconds could easily translated as the entire film and made it a complete disaster. I harp on this fact because this is writer/director David Spaltro’s first attempt as a filmmaker. Let me be clear here. I’m not saying that this is a good movie for a first time filmmaker. I’m saying that this is a good movie, period. Spaltro gives what really could be a formulaic story a unique quality by inserting portions of his own life experiences into the film. Whenever you give a film a healthy dose of humanity and reality, you give that film a chance to be something special.
To start, the films two leads to a great job of carrying this film. Robert Evans does a great job of portraying the character of Doyle as a likable guy who definitely has some rough edges. It would be very easy to play this character as pathetic or as an arrogant ass. To Evans’ credit, he plays Doyle perfectly. Molly Ryman is absolutely wonderful as Allyson Lodeir. Again, in many films, this character would have been shallow and ditzy. Ryman brought the necessary humanity to Allyson and refused to let her become a caricature. Yes, she’s a nice girl, but she’s also complicated in a real world way.
To get back to David Spaltro, it’s awesome to see a film come to life that isn’t afraid to show the down sides of life, but doesn’t wallow in them. Spaltro wrote Doyle as a rough guy who’s had a hard life, but he doesn’t ask you to pity him. Doyle is a man who makes the best of whatever life throws at him, and he’s willing to do what it takes to get where he wants, even if that means fighting himself. What’s remarkable is that Spaltro found ALL the right people to surround himself with when it came to make this movie, and it definitely shows.
Really, …Around catches me as a movie that isn’t afraid to look at life as what it is, but it’s also about making the best of what you’ve got. It’s far too common to see independent films try to be “edgy” or “relevant”. It’s a wonderful thing that …Around found a way to be relevant by simply being honest. And screw edgy. Edgy is for people without a creative bone in their body. If you want to see what a film with a great script, great direction and great acting without the need of a budget can be, you NEED to see …Around. You really can’t do much better.