The hardest reviews to write are the ones where a film neither excels nor fails. When a movie is absolutely tip-top brilliant, it’s easy to go on for hours about how wonderful it is. When it’s awful, it’s equally as easy to come up with ways to point out how bad it is. When it’s middle-ground… well, you have to take the good with the bad and find out where you stand. “Float” is of the middle-ground ilk; it’s flaws not so awful as to destroy your viewing experience, and it’s good points not so wonderful as to make you praise it forever.
“Float” revolves around three main characters: Ray (Gregory Itzin), Gevorg (Hrach Titizian) and Ramon (Johnny Asuncion). Ray is the owner of the ice cream shop “Float,” of which Gevorg and Ramon are employees. Ray is focused on his work, so much so that his constant “putting the job first” nature has lead to marital troubles, culminating in his wife leaving him (the store motto of “it’s all about the ice cream” being more an explanation of Ray’s life mistakes than the sign of his success).
At the same time, Gevorg finds himself the black sheep of his rich, successful Armenian family, headed by his father Vahig (Ken Davitian). While his penchant for gambling and womanizing keeps him out of the family’s good graces, he does have the benefit of living in a house by himself… that is until Ramon gets fired and Gevorg opens up the house to him, only to soon follow that kindness up with another, when Ray finds himself unable to get any sleep at his now empty home.
“Float” is a real slice-of-life film (or, in keeping with the ice cream theme, a “scoop-of-life,” perhaps). There are no huge revelations hammered over your head with thunderous resolution, the characters all just move forward through their own growth cycles, at their own pace. Ramon’s chip-on-the-shoulder doesn’t entirely disappear, Gevorg isn’t suddenly a responsible family hero and Ray, while at least coming more to terms with the life he’s been ignoring while championing ice cream, hasn’t necessarily wandered far enough from a forced mid-life crisis stage. In other words, it’s all realistic, and there’s a comfort there.
The acting is of a competent caliber; no one embarrasses themselves or the film, and the flaws of the film come from a primarily technical standpoint. The pacing sometimes gets tripped up by the editing, there’s some heavy-handed soundtrack cues and there are more than a few instances where the film’s cuts leave you a bit lost in the sudden scene changes. Also, the camerawork lives almost too outside of the film, and what I mean by that is there are many instances where the use of wide shots gives you a disconnected feeling from what is going on in the frame. I’m not saying everything should be a close-up, but the distance had me feel like I was watching a play sometimes and not, say, a feature film.
As I said, the film is real middle-ground fare, and it’s not going to change your life for the better or worse, and I stand by that. Still, films don’t have to always be in the service of those goals, and had this film taken the more preachy “live life to the fullest, drop the chip, be responsible” angle, I’d probably be decrying it as false, holier-than-thou proselytizing and… who wants that? I like my character studies subtle, and I don’t mind the slow burn. “Float” is a solid enough film for you to enjoy, and in this case, that’s good enough for me.