Kaylee Williams is equally monotonous as the scared, meek Sandy. She and Bugard share zero chemistry, so the believability of their relationship is just that much harder to figure out. Couple that with Williams’s quiet way of talking, and the viewer will be left bored whenever they are both onscreen.
Thankfully, Anita Nicole Brown attempts to breathe life into an underwritten role. Her larger than life personality and full-bodied laugh at least make her human and relatable; which is so much more than the humdrum of literally everyone else who makes an appearance.
Migliore’s direction does not do Routines any favors. The camera is permanently fixed at a medium or close up static shot. The few times it does move, it is jerky and out of focus, such as a pan to Bruce’s hand tied to a bedpost. I am not joking either—the camera pans to his hands, and they are out of focus for a minute or two.
“…fails to build momentum or energy.”
While those are all massive issues, none of them is the biggest problem with Routines. No, that would be the movie’s lack of tone and its odd sense of timing. Let’s discuss the latter first. There are no establishing shots to speak of: one scene ends, and the next one begins. This means that the flow of time is nonsensical and confusing. Were Bruce and Darling dating for two days or multiple months before getting engaged? How long were they married before she died? How long after her death did Sandy show up?
The plot is in such a hurry to move on to the next thing, that it never takes the time to breathe and allow the audience to understand how Bruce feels about any given story beat. The movie is not even a full hour and a half, including opening and closing credits, so there is no excuse for it not fully to explore its main character’s headspace. While Routines is short, it feels endless. I went to see how much longer the movie had left, positive it had already been on for an hour, but nope. It had only been 35-minutes, never a good sign. It is just in a rush to go nowhere.
Then there’s the tone and atmosphere of this dramatic comedy, rather the lack of them. The still camera hampers the film in a significant way, as each static shot fails to build momentum or energy. Even period pieces like the recent Emma move their cameras in subtle ways and utilize lighting to build a visual representation via color and shadow of how one or several of the characters feel at any given moment. Migliore’s lighting prowess extends to turning on the overhead fluorescents for a gaudy, ungainly looking film.
Routines is so poorly directed that the rare camera pans, zooms, and craning up or down are out of focus. Most of the actors look visibly tired and fail to fully inhabit their characters, so they don’t come across as believable, though Anita Nicole Brown tries her darnedest. The writing is shallow and more interested in moving from one set piece to the next, then exploring its characters’ inner lives.
"…the viewer will be left bored..."