A few other stories, such as the drummer (?) of The Avensons’ terrible luck or Abigail Killmeier’s Samantaha’s merch schlepping woes, are entertaining, but they are not necessary. However, director Michael Cuenca, who co-wrote I’ll Be Around with Dan Rojay, has an excellent ear for dialogue. All of the conversations flow realistically and feel like conversations people would have in real-life. This means that even when it takes a long time for a particular story to re-emerge, the audience is invested in it once it does come back around; save for Cooper’s, which feels the most forced.
As a director, Cuenca balances drama and comedy exceptionally well. There is an odd diversion into semi-thriller territory that does not work one bit. But excluding that one scene, again from a story I’d cut entirely, the movie works. Cuenca finds that depending on one’s vantage point, any particular scenario can be both humorous and dramatic. He also clearly loves music, punk specifically. When the bands do play, he films them in earnest to catch all the gritty fun of live shows. The style of the film’s production matches this as well. I am not sure if that is intentional or lucky happenstance due to limited resources, but the look of the film matches the punk aesthetic perfectly.
Then, of course, there is I’ll Be Around’s absolutely brilliant cast. Sarah Lawrence, as Eve shines in every scene. When her young fans first show up and exclaim their love for her music, Eve berates them. She then runs off and breaks down, crying in a bathroom. Shortly after that, she lies to get them into the fest for free. Lawrence makes each moment authentic, and the audience buys all of it.
“…weaves through multiple stories with ease, humor, and heart.”
She is not alone in delivering a stellar performance. As Kip, Brendan Takash’s shyness, yet ultimate positivity makes the character all the more relatable. In fact, the entire cast of over 30 actors all deliver natural and engaging performances. This is true even of the stories that are not ultimately needed for the movie’s thematic core to land.
Michael Cuenca weaves through multiple stories with ease, humor, and heart. His cast is absolutely remarkable, with all of them nailing their roles perfectly. But there are far too many stories in I’ll Be Around for it to be effective. The ending works shockingly well, but several points drag on. There is promise here, but the movie does not entirely deliver.
"…the entire cast of over 30 actors all deliver natural and engaging performances."