Films don’t always need to have a story with a beginning, middle, and end along with a few arcs. Some movies are essentially showcases of something. Action films showcase big stunts, elaborate fight scenes, and thin dialogue. Horror films showcase gory images, gruesome deaths, and jump scares. Even pornos showcase sex, sex, and ugh sex. The key to making a showcase film is understanding that you’re making an actual showcase film. In other words, don’t take yourself seriously and put on the best fight, death, or sex scene you possibly can.
Lewis & Klarq is a showcase film showcasing 80’s synth-heavy new wave music. The title refers to an 80’s high school duo featuring musician Aaron Clarke (Neil Butler) and front-man lyricist Lewis Balcom (Robert R. Arnold). This teen duo had talent, potential, and a small following from the other students. How do we know? Because we’re told that by numerous supporting characters.
Now all grown up in their late forties, we turn our attention to veteran music executive Aaron Clarke driving to his childhood hometown in Tallahassee to participate in an intervention for his former bandmate, Lewis. Aaron arrives at the Balcolm home greeted by Lewis’ parents and sibling. They force Aaron to lead an awkward prayer just before Lewis’ arrival. During the session of familial disappointment, Lewis ignores everyone and seems genuinely happy to see Aaron. The two split mid-way through the intervention.
“…driving to his childhood hometown to participate in an intervention for his former bandmate…”
The film is primarily told from Aaron’s viewpoint as he tries to figure out what happened to his once close friend Lewis and at the same time, learn a little something about himself. As the pair jumps from one nostalgic location to another, each stop becomes a musical spotlight punctuated by an obligatory plot revelation. Over time, we discover why Lewis has been locked in this adolescent funk over the last few decades, while Aaron rediscovers his passion for writing music that he also lost decades ago when he became a music executive.
At Film Threat, we appreciate filmmakers who make the most with what they have. Lewis & Klarq is a low budget indie film with low budget production values. Sure, camera angles could have been tighter and the sound could have been better. To that, I say, “Kudos.” Finishing any film is to be celebrated and the experience creating that music is valuable. The cinematography is fine and does the rural areas of Tallahassee justice. Filmmakers Butler and Chimonides manage to squeeze out a few good visual effects at the same time.
“…pop-synth music is good and transported me back to my high school days.”
The story is relatively simple. Two older men remember how cool it was being in a band writing their own music and wouldn’t it be cool to get the band back together to breathe life into their dreary lives. The drama is light with some humorous moments, particularly during the intervention. There’s also a sweet, semi-awkward moment as Arron returns to his home. Fun Fact: did you know musicians like to take drugs for inspiration? The boys do manage to get the band back together and the eventual reawakening of the band Lewis & Klarq serves the plot but comes off more cliched than profound. The acting is sub-par overall, but Neil Butler’s Aaron does a fine job carry the main bulk of the acting duty. As Lewis, Arnold is just a little too flat as the depressed man-child.
But Lewis & Klarq is really about the music. This music comes from Tallahassee songwriter David Muhlenfeld, who composed the original music of Lewis & Klarg. Muhlenfeld’s pop-synth music is good and transported me back to my high school days. I remember being a teen and loving this style of music, and then I grew up and like everyone else, my music taste matured along with me. The final verdict on the music is good, not great. It’s not all 80’s music. Lewis & Klarq offers some decent alternative and garage band rock.
For the most part, Lewis & Klarq will appeal most to fifty-year-old men. Films are allowed to focus on a narrow niche. While the best part of the film is its music, the story and active never rises above the level of mediocrity.
Lewis & Klarq (2017) Written and directed by Neil Butler, Jason Chimonides. Starring Robert R. Arnold, Neil Butler. Lewis & Klarq is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
4 out of 10 stars