DANCES WITH FILMS 2020 REVIEW! Samantha (Jennifer Prediger) and Travis Sunstrom (Justin Kirk) are aspiring actors who, until the present, have struggled to catch any sort of break. Hollywood Fringe finds this married couple attempting to rekindle a fire within themselves and provide themselves the big break they have hoped for four years. In general, their lives have not met any expectations. They find themselves struggling to remain optimistic or passionate about their careers or themselves. So, the two come up with an idea that may or may not save their careers and their sanity. The two perform a series of skit that depict the struggles of their everyday lives. As the series progresses, their sanity, their hopes, and their dreams are now on the line. Can they finally find success, or will everything the Sunstroms ever hoped to accomplish diminish—never to be revisited?
Hollywood Fringe is dull, slow-moving, and generally boring in terms of what audiences might expect from a film. Little to nothing happens throughout the film, and audiences find themselves questioning each and every second as they attempt to determine what exactly is taking place at any given moment. Most might believe that this “issue” is a deal-breaker and that the film lacks substance or meaning. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Director Megan Huber and writer-director Wyatt McDill construct a film that mirrors the real world. Life can be mundane and it can be unbearable at times. Hollywood Fringe captures this and accurately depicts it on screen. Viewers will identify with the simplicity and the difficulties that Samantha and Travis face.
“…attempting to rekindle a fire within themselves and provide themselves [a] big break…”
Leaving so much to the imagination makes it possible that viewers might miss the meaning of the film and fill in the veritable blanks with misinformation, avoiding the reality of what the filmmakers are trying to do. Hollywood Fringe, however, purposely leads down a path of their own making. The film allows these viewers to apply what they see to their own lives and their own personal experiences. There is no right or wrong answer when attempting to decipher what is being done. The open-ended nature of the film welcomes all audiences and allows them to appreciate what is being presented on a personal level.
There are two aspects of the film that play a prominent role, one of which is a surprise. I expected the comedy present in Hollywood Fringe and, while dry, it does deliver on occasion. Mystery, however, takes place and challenges viewers to attempt to understand beyond themselves. While the ability to look at oneself and find meaning within one’s life is prominent throughout Hollywood Fringe, viewers are forced to determine what exactly is taking place throughout the film. There is a divide between what is a reality to the characters and what is simply an act in their traveling, on-site performance. The mystery is determining which is taking place at any given moment. Trying to determine what is real and what is an act reflects the real world and provides even deeper meaning to those watching.
Hollywood Fringe is less about the content (which on the surface can be quite ridiculous) and more about the underlying meaning. These meanings lying beneath the surface present themselves differently to everyone. Huber and McDill create a film with more depth than I’ve seen in a while. The ability to reach a wide range of audiences on a number of levels is impressive and leads audiences to a better appreciation of the cast and crew involved in developing film. Hollywood Fringe is beautifully cryptic and emotionally drawing; it feels original and fresh, leading audiences to brilliant realizations of both the film itself and their own lives.
Hollywood Fringe screened at the 2020 Dances With Films.
"…...beautifully cryptic and emotionally drawing...original and fresh…"