A soulful soliloquy about the fragility of memory and starting over, Brian Cavallaro’s 32 Weeks sails along smoothly until a storm of an ending sends it sinking into melodramatic—and oddly gruesome— depths. Imagine Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind jarringly morphing into Fatal Attraction in its last ten minutes, and you’ll have a vague idea of what I mean. I applaud Cavallaro’s ambition and guts, and I see what he was going for, yet in the context of the rest of the film, it just doesn’t quite gel. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give 32 Weeks a chance.
Cole (Nicole Souza) wakes up after a car accident with amnesia. She remembers her best friend Hannah (Nicole Rainteau) but can’t recollect anything from her alleged 32-week relationship with the enigmatic Simon (Scott Bender). As she tries to, with the charming-to-the-point-of-smarmy young man as her guide of sorts, memories of her past relationship with Warren (Cameron Tagge) begin to haunt her. Good thing Cole has classical music to rely on; a surefire way to trigger vivid flashback sequences. When she finally pieces the puzzle together, it reveals a highly unexpected image.
How well do we know the person we’re with? How can we know for sure we see the “honest” side of their personality? How reliable are our memories? Cavallaro raises a multitude of intriguing questions in this stylish little yarn. Still, he’s also not above resorting to a sped-up montage that resembles an Abercrombie & Fitch commercial or a cheesy pop tune to carry a sequence. That said, despite the intermittent embellishment, his characters live in realistically-sized Los Angeles apartments; there’s genuine camaraderie among them, and they generally lead grounded lives, which is refreshing to see.
“…wakes up after a car accident with amnesia…but can’t recollect anything from her alleged 32-week relationship with the enigmatic Simon.”
Nicole Souza carries 32 Weeks as the confused protagonist who gradually regains her identity, along with her memory. She doesn’t reveal too much, her introverted approach serving the film well. I loved the sequence where Cole picks her violin back up and the intimate moment when she puts a record on a player—arguably more intimate than the moments she shares with her male counterparts. Scott Bender has a tougher part to deal with. Without revealing too much, I’ll just say the actor does the best he can with the sudden shift this role demands from him.
The film’s micro-budget roots reveal themselves at times, which could have been avoided with an additional polish or two. The choppy editing lets down the naturalistic performances. At one point, the mic wire bundle can be clearly seen bulging out of Souza’s back during an otherwise-poignant moment. Perhaps the crew ran out of time, or there was no more money left for reshoots, or… other things I don’t necessarily want to contemplate while watching a heartbreaking love-story-cum-drama-cum-thriller.
32 Weeks reminded me of Tom Tykwer’s Faubourg Saint-Denis segment from the 2006 anthology Paris, je t’aime. In it, Tykwer traced the stratospheric rise and (potential) fall of a relationship, speeding past the ups and downs towards a cataclysmic-yet-calm conclusion. It’s as if Cavallaro watched Faubourg Saint-Denis and stretched it out to a full-length treatise on memory and trust. The result may not haunt you for 32 weeks but certainly warrants your attention.
"…may not haunt you for 32 weeks, but certainly warrants your attention."