The one true way to rid oneself of friends is to live with them—and no one understands that better than filmmaker, Josh Barry.
Barry teams up with co-writer/actor, Jess Andrew Lofland, in their seductively addictive feature, “Green Valley.”
In many ways, “Green Valley” is typical of new filmmakers trying so hard to create something weird that in the end their work resembles the primitive tactics of every other new filmmaker.
Examples of this can be seen in overly long shots of the inside of a car, scenes that lack value and would be better off cut; cinematic connections that could only be made by very patient, veteran-critics, and certain actors that feel like they may have another day-job.
Still, all filmmakers must begin somewhere—even the great David Lynch— to whom Barry pays homage both in style, and character-analysis.
So what does this buildup mean in terms of “Green Valley?” Basically, that the film has a few technical flaws but is, fundamentally, brilliant in its conception.
Barry and Lofland’s “story” concerns four young men who set off for a weekend retreat. Two of the men have significant others, and one of them who appears to be married, worries that the vacation will create serious repercussions at home. Lofland’s character, aptly named Jess, is a complex hippie-type, who appears to be the laid-back leader of the group, but may be something altogether different. Then there’s Eric (Jay Hindle), the neat one, who’s always preparing meals, fluffing up pillows, and seething beneath his facade. Another ambiguous character is John (Bill Elverman), who speaks in one-word monotone, cuts wood by moonlight, and butchers elk with teeth-rattling precision.
“Green Valley” is all about the ebb and flow of relationships, as the strange kinship between John and Jess attests. And here is where Barry and Lofland excel, especially in those very subtle spaces that tend to complicate the human animal more than those other types.
The film moves along so realistically that, at times, it feels more like surveillance footage than narrative— and that’s interesting in and of itself. However, this level of realism also creates a slight impasse if you’re not paying complete attention, as it’s all too possible to miss the crux of the story.
All in all, Barry and Lofland are a formidable new team, so keep a sharp eye on them in the future. In the meantime, look for a screening of “Green Valley,” watch as VOD or a possible sale of the DVD.
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