When filmmakers craft projects about the art of filmmaking, as in the new drama Myth, they run the risk of alienating viewers if the curtain is pulled back too far and seeming self-indulgent. Balancing the arduous task of creating cinema with levity or intrigue is key, as demonstrated in such small-budget films as Me, Earl and the Dying Girl and Son of Rambow. First-time filmmaker Brian DiLorenzo, who wrote and directed, not only constructs a twisty little gem in Myth but was able to enlist a cast who delivers wonderfully modulated performances that are not afraid to use silence between them to mount the tension in their words.
In it, we meet socially awkward teen Alex (Justin Andrew Davis), a college student struggling to craft his first screenplay when he happens upon the director of his favorite film (also titled Myth) who is visiting Alex’s quiet suburban New York town. The director JP Smith (Nicholas Tucci, who tragically lost his battle with cancer after filming this), is hitting a slump with his follow-up feature, and realizing Alex knows the language of film, invites him to participate in his next documentary-style film. Pretty soon, JP is following his every move, which includes his burgeoning relationship with an attractive young lady (Sadie Scott).
When a series of events lands Alex and Ruby having to perform community service, Ruby befriends a hunky rebel named Josh (Connor Dylan) who complicates things for Alex but is rich with added drama for JP. As the filming progresses, Alex’s fan-boy fawning of the director fades, and he begins questioning this Avant-guard production in which he’s volunteered to participate.
“…Alex knows the language of film, invites him to participate in his next documentary-style film.”
Myth is certainly not without its faults: there are certain actions and reactions between characters that require suspension of disbelief for the sake of the narrative. But at its core, writer-director DiLorenzo posits some crafty conundrums. How much of Alex’s situation is a result of his own doing, and just how much of his life is he willing to sacrifice for the chance to work with his idol? Throughout, DiLorenzo assembled a sturdy slate of actors, most notable being Tucci (perhaps best known for his roles in series Channel Zero and the feature You’re Next). Slightly smug and enigmatic, Tucci’s JP remains an engaging cipher throughout, never revealing to what lengths he’s willing to go in the name of authenticity.
As the impressionable Alex, Davis remains imminently sympathetic. He’s young and vulnerable but never crosses over into a gullible pushover. He is merely a film student who is caught up with the opportunity to gain knowledge and befriend someone within the industry, which he respects. Myth’s ingenue Ruby (Sadie Scott) projects similar vulnerability, while always leaving us with a hint that perhaps she, too, maybe part of JP’s orchestrated project.
DiLorenzo peels the layers back ever-so-slowly as the film progresses, glimpsing the machinations at work without revealing the ultimate purpose of JP’s film or unorthodox filming style. Instead, the revelations spring up like popcorn kernels at just the right time. Intentionally or not, Myth also hints at our social-media-saturated world and how much of our own lives are “edited” for the sake of entertainment. And DiLorenzo and crew should be commended for crafting a smaller feature that, with a bit more polish, could easily be fleshed out into a provocative big-budget drama.
"…a twisty little gem in Myth."