DANCES WITH FILMS 2021 REVIEW! In these trying times, all we have is each other. Writer-director Josh Hope’s Alex/October is the story of Alex (Brad Hunt) and October (Tara Shayne). Alex is at his breaking point. He’s in a dead-end job, lives alone, and feels socially isolated. October is on her own downward spiral. She’s lost in life — partying at night and not giving a flying flip about her future.
With not much to live for, and after several failed suicide attempts, Alex puts out an online ad looking for someone who would be willing to kill him for $500. The half-serious October decides to respond, and now an odd friendship begins to develop between the two. Their connection might seem strange at first because they are from very different worlds.
Alex is an older man who once had everything and then quickly lost it all through bad choices and alcohol. He’s a man struggling to stay in and out of AA. In contrast, October is a much younger millennial with no clear picture of her future. October was left to live on her own by her estranged mother, and she is searching for some real connections in life.
Alex/October plays out like your typical drama as the titular characters immediately clash. October is constantly combative towards any attempt by Alex to relate to her. Alex quickly becomes annoyed and impatient with her coarse behavior. However, as the emotional barriers begin to fall, the two find more in common than they expected.
“October is constantly combative towards any attempt by Alex to relate to her.”
The star of the film is Hope’s script. He takes two characters from opposite ends of the spectrum and finds a way to build a genuine and authentic friendship between them. He mines all that emotion without ever having them fall in love or have sex. How can these two characters be friends? The filmmaker finds a way to answer that, and once he does, looks to challenge that friendship in the third act.
Look, the story structure of Alex/October is fairly standard — build the relationship, challenge it, and the protagonists come out stronger. But, there’s a reason this dynamic is used a lot: it is solid and works. Hope makes it all the more so because he has written two well-defined characters with defined points of view. Both leads, Hunt and Shayne, understand these characters and embody them beautifully.
The drama is the perfect example of the challenges indie filmmakers face when telling stories. Writers, like Josh Hope, have a tale to tell, and no studio will give them the time of day unless a big name is attached. But, at the same time, we as an audience won’t see a film like this unless a big name stars in it.
To me, the reason to see Alex/October is its underlying message. Our world is so divided that our natural instinct is to turn on one another for the sheer pleasure of it. But, instead, we should realize that we are all imperfect people, we’ve made mistakes, often unforgivable ones. We should also recognize that all we have is each other to make it to the next day.
Alex/October screened at the 2021 Dances With Films.
"…the perfect example of the challenges indie filmmakers face when telling stories."