Save and Continue sees little Sam (Casey Lynn Lopez) looking in on the outskirts of the adult world, as her parents’ marriage falls apart. Like most kids, she’s smarter than she’s given credit for and is able to understand what’s going without anyone laying it outright. One night, when her thoughts are too loud to fall asleep, she follows the light of a CRT TV, like it’s the fumes coming from a pie on the windowsill, and she’s a cartoon hobo.
The light leads her to her father, Dennis (Nick Burr), still recovering from a domestic quarrel with Wendy (Candice Bolek), her mother. He’s cross-legged on the floor, cutting grass and throwing pots in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. His daughter joins him, and the game becomes a mutual escape route for the two. It is a place where they spend time with one another, where the rules, systems, and progression are more straightforward than those of real life.
“…a place where they spend time with one another, where the rules, systems, and progression are more straightforward than those of real life.”
Written and directed by Michael Felker, the short drama may sound a little like one of those sappy Super Bowl commercials that’s supposed to make you cry in thirty seconds, but it’s more convincing than that. None of the domestic turmoil is spoken of, but that works in the movie’s favor. Like the daughter, you’re kept out of the loop. Every now and then, you catch a glimpse of the parents, who are supposed to have it all figured out, tripping over themselves. They stumble from one day to the other, with no more insight than a child. The daughter doesn’t know the specifics, but she knows she’s on shaky ground. Her two beacons of guidance are crashing into one another.
Still, Save and Continue can be cloying. The dialogue doesn’t come off well, especially between Sam and Dennis. It doesn’t feel like a real relationship when they interact. He doesn’t talk to her like a human being that he has lived with since her birth. It’s as if a cute kid fell out of the sky and landed in his broken home, and he’s overcome with guilt and affection. It’s not a lived-in relationship. It’s a thirty-second, sappy Super Bowl commercial relationship. Thankfully, there is minimal speaking in the movie.
Scaling back, Save and Continue becomes a clearer picture. The broader concept of a father and daughter finding the solace in a video game is plausible and a mostly untapped angle. Small moments, such as seeing that doodles of Link almost completely obscure Sam’s homework evoke more emotion than any of the dialogue does. After serving as puzzle-solving inspiration in last year’s Under the Silver Lake, it appears the Legend of Zelda series is finally getting its due as an imagination stimulant. I, for one, roll everywhere I go. It’s faster than running, I think. I’m not sure, actually.
"…broader concept of a father and daughter finding the solace in a video game is plausible..."