Writer-director Michael Bachochin’s science-fiction mystery, Parallax, takes a stab at being a profoundly sophisticated and intelligent mind trip but falls tragically short of its noble goals. It tries a little too hard to astound its audience at the expense of coherence and satisfying resolutions. The story is poorly paced, the acting is incredibly subpar, and the cinematography had a strange overabundance of negative space. Sure, it features a lot of attention-grabbing ideas, but sadly it fails to explore them in anything remotely resembling a compelling capacity. It’s a bummer to say this, but nothing about this film truly worked for me.
Parallax stars Naomi Prentice as Naomi, a monotoned monologue artist who has visions and dreams of weird things, including being submerged in water and possibly drowning. Naomi awakens to find herself living a different life, not recognizing her surroundings or her fiancé, Lucas (Nelson Ritthaler). With the help of Dr. Hill (Ted Gianopulos), Lucas and Naomi try to figure out what is really going on. Meanwhile, Naomi’s dreams are invaded by a beautiful woman named Mikayla (Hattie Smith) promising answers. What is real? What is fabricated? Who is lying? What does any of this even mean?
“Naomi awakens to find herself living a different life, not recognizing her surroundings or her fiancé…”
I was 45 minutes into the film’s nearly two-hour runtime when I realized I just didn’t care what the deal was. The characters and the script failed to hook me in, the poor performances by the film’s leads made me feel disconnected, and the first act’s pacing was just too slow and plodding to keep me immersed. I have to admit Parallax does pick-up quite a bit during the second half, but by that time, it was far too little too late. The film shoehorns in so many mysteries, and the themes that aren’t derivative of iconic science fiction tropes are mostly dull, lackluster, and awkwardly pretentious.
In what I’m guessing had to be a weird artistic choice, there are numerous scenes where the actors occupy most of one side of the frame, leaving a lot of unoccupied room. This is a mistake a lot of cinematographers actively avoid. I’m not sure why this was done so often, but it was really distracting every time it happened.
Parallax is not the worst film out there, but it’s not memorable either. It’s very milquetoast with a tidbit of potential that pops up here and there. The cast isn’t incompetent, they have their moments, but there’s a noticeable lack of chemistry. The film definitely could have benefited from a shorter runtime and less focus on distracting pseudo-philosophical speeches, thus devoting more energy to making the characters multifaceted and less pompous. There are some captivating visuals, but then there’s all that shoddy framing and negative space that frequently pop up. I can see this cast and crew growing into something noteworthy, but they’re not quite there yet.
"…there are numerous scenes where the actors occupy most of one side of the frame..."