Anna (Erica Sherwood) has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and she’s taken to handling the situation in private, hiding away in her house except when it comes time to work (which she does, all the time, to keep up with medical bills). Unfortunately, her solitary decline is interrupted by her sister Sarah (Beth Moore) in the lead up to Sarah’s wedding, which prompts the arrival of their layabout brother Josh (Brad Moore), who has taken up camp at Anna’s place for an undetermined amount of time. Plus there’s the new neighbor (Edward Balli), who has taken an interest in Anna, making it hard for her to continue to hide away.
Jason Lupish’s A Kind of Wonderful Thing is a quirky dramedy that is hard to tonally pin down at times. It’s a mix of goofy and serious, and often you find yourself in the middle, noncommittal to any real feeling for the film besides an uneasiness due to its dysfunctional eccentricities.
Frankly, I’m having a hard time shaking the feeling that there’s a lot of style over substance here. Whether it’s the energy of the edit, and the repetition of certain imagery and ideas, to the active camerawork, the film feels like it’s not enticing you into its world so much as shouting, “look how clever I am!” And that’s fine, except at a certain point, when you’re trying to connect with characters, it feels like an overabundance of quirky for quirky’s sake.
I felt that way after seeing Garden State for the first time too, and that film is beloved by many, so maybe my pullback-reaction can be taken as a compliment (depending on your opinion of Garden State). It just feels like, if you really want to start teasing this one apart, it’s not going to put up much of a fight; there might be something there under the surface, but it’s hard to believe that there’s too much.
But I am an optimist, and despite my instinctual misgivings, the film is still entertaining. And issues with a too active camera aside, I did enjoy the composition and think the film has a nice look to it. The edit calls attention to itself and drives much of the energy of the piece; regardless of whether I completely enjoyed that energy throughout, it still takes a talented editor to achieve what it does.
There is a lot here to like, and it will come down to a person’s individual sensibilities; I had trouble embracing the film, but I can see how other people could love it. I appreciate the talent that went into the film’s creation, even if the end result never felt right for me.
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