Watching in the woods


on July 02, 2011 by Pam Grady

"Green" can mean so many things. It can refer to verdant fields, inexperience, the movement to sustain the environment, or jealousy. In Sophia Takal's feature film debut, her story of what happens when a young couple relocates from their native urban environment to the country, the title refers to all of those things. Reminiscent somewhat of early David Gordon Green in the way that the jittery emotional undercurrent is at odds with the bucolic setting and populated by characters that are not altogether likeable, Green is not always comfortable to watch. But it is an ultimately rewarding drama as Takal gradually reveals that there is more to this couple and their relationship than their glib surface would suggest. What the film needs is a distributor willing to take a chance on a low-key, character-driven drama.

Sebastian (Lawrence Michael Levine) and Genevieve (Kate Lynn Sheil) are first spotted in their natural habitat arguing lit at a party, establishing the relationship as competitive and both as show offs eager to win intellectual superiority. Sebastian has a new gig blogging about sustainable farming, so the couple is soon off in a place that's their equivalent to the moonnot that either will admit to feeling alienated. Sebastian's arrogance is such that he seems to think there is nothing to this farming thing, and it is only when he realizes that the field he intends to cultivate is filled with rocks that he begins to understand the enormity of his undertaking. Genevieve has no real role in the project and displays no desire to help her partner even as the rural isolation makes her more dependent on him than ever.

When lonely townie Robin (Takal) injects herself into their lives, their reaction to her is pure snark. She's a chatterbox who reads supermarket magazines instead of books and holds down jobs at an animal shelter and a diner. Their first impulse is to dismiss her, making fun of her opinions on the Batman movie franchise as if her preferring Tim Burton over Christopher Nolan or watching Batman movies at all somehow puts her in a very inferior place. But with Sebastian busy working all day, Genevieve befriends Robin and eventually Sebastian warms to her. Three can be a crowd, though, and jealousy takes hold of Genevieve who becomes convinced that Sebastian and Robin are getting down and dirty behind her back. (Perhaps because Takal and Levine are partners in real life these scenes have a frankness that completely underlines Genevieve's unease and fear.)

Takal has a gift for dialogue and for character, the latter especially strong when it comes to Genevieve. Sebastian and Robin are more open personalities, but Genevieve is a human iceberg with qualities she keeps hidden. She wears the mantle of the good girlfriend, but she's an emotional vampire, bored at her circumstances and needy, overly dependent on Sebastian to fill her emptiness.

Decorating the film is Ernesto Carcamo's sinister score, music that would not to be out of place in a thriller or a horror movie. Some might find that overblown for what is essentially a languid character drama, but the score totally works in context. There is a kind of horror at work here, but of a much more intimate variety than serial killers or monsters and all of it taking place within the intimate confines of a woman's mind. As terror goes, this is a reality all too easy to relate to.

Contact: Sophia Takal (917) 743-1271
Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Sophia Takal, Lawrence Michael Levine
Director/Screenwriter: Sophia Takal
Producer: Lawrence Michael Levine
Genre: Drama
Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 75 min.
Release date: Unset


Tags: Kate Lyn Sheil, Sophia Takal, Lawrence Michael Levine

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