Daniel Cariaga, Kimberly-Rose Wolter, Erik McDowell. Directed by Eric Byler. Written by Byler and Wolter.
Somewhere in the hills of California, Kakela spends her days writing a story. She considers it her job, even though she’s never made money at it, and she doesn’t need an income. She owns the house and property she shares with her boyfriend Gabe, who spends his days training horses and their riders. He does need an income, as he reminds Kakela once or twice. They’re hosting a friend going through a difficult time in her marriage, and in the film’s first scene, their pad is crashed by Tre, a longtime friend of Gabe’s, who’s been tossed out by either his girlfriend or his parents (I can’t remember which, but I remember the character well enough to know it could be either).
Tre is a first-class jerk, one of those guys who uses honesty as an excuse not to have any tact. He’ll say something incredibly hurtful with no apologies, and then later say something deeply compassionate, and because he’s so honest about the hurtful things, his friends assume he’s being sincere about the kind things. Is he? This is Tre‘s mystery, and it had the potential to be fascinating. Instead, it’s tiresome, as I imagine Tre is tiresome for anyone unfortunate enough to know him. Friendships are complicated things, and I would never tell people when they have to stop giving themselves to a person they care about, but I’m just a viewer of a film by a director whose Charlotte Sometimes I like and have great respect for. I have no relationship with Tre beyond the ninety minutes this film requires, and thank goodness, because even that is more than I wanted to give him.
The first half of the film is interesting, as the characters kind of set up their corners and give us little tastes of how they interact with one another, in different combinations and all together. As the characters take us (and each other) a little deeper, it remains interesting, but despite feeling sympathy for the characters, I can’t buy Tre’s actions or words in the final act. Sometimes a jerk, no matter what he might have been through or what he’s feeling, is just a jerk, and there’s very little here to make me feel otherwise.
As with Charlotte Sometimes, Director Eric Byler doesn’t spell everything out, which I appreciate, but where he leaves us at film’s end is unsatisfying. I like what he tried to do; I just don’t like what he managed to do.