To filmmakers out there wanting a good review from me, I have three surefire suggestions. One, tell a story in a fresh new way. Be original. Two, make odd and strange choices that are integral to the overall story and pay it off in the end. Three, shoot scenes in front of my grandfather’s restaurant. I’ll make you guess where that is.
The last film to hit all three key points was Ant-Man. And now the baton is passed to Eugene Kotlyarenko’s Wobble Palace. The story of a couple whose relationship has degraded to merely co-existing in the home they rent in LA’s Chinatown. They take their estranged relationship to the next level by splitting the home over the weekend. Eugene (Eugene Kotlyarenko) gets it Saturday, and Jane (Dasha Nekrasova) gets it on Sunday.
Using smartphone footage as scene transitions and exposition is not new. It’s hip, cute and contemporary. Kotlyarenko probably uses the device the best. First, he’s using real apps, and the animation feels real, like how I actually use my phone. Wobble Palace opens by going through Eugene’s iPhone text history to quickly show the rise and fall of his relationship with Jane. In the end, they agree to split time in their home.
“…take their estranged relationship to the next level by splitting their home over the weekend.”
Capitalizing on his newfound freedom, Eugene multi-manages several texts and Tinder conversations with girls he recently met. He moves fast hoping to get laid at some point during his day.
I have to admit, I really hated this film and the character of Eugene almost instantly (Don’t stop here, keep reading). Eugene is an incredibly annoying person. He’s kind of a loser with an odd forward man-bun to cover his receding hairline. Each date, he constantly talks about himself with no depth of any kind and does whatever he needs to do to get laid. I’ve seen this character before in hundreds of other indie comedies and the prospects of watching this guy for 90 minutes filled my soul with dread.
Then came along this brilliant revelation. This annoying character was not some actor showing off a weird character he created in improv class. This character was intentional. Everything I found annoying about this guy had purpose and meaning throughout this story. Even his goddamn annoying ugly-ass hairstyle.
Jane is also just as interesting. Less annoying, but a self-absorbed millennial none-the-less. While she is clearly the more normal person in the relationship, Jane is not without her severe flaws. She can’t ever be alone, even though she can’t stand being around boyfriend Eugene. She’s score high on a “basic bitch” internet poll and ultimately winds up with the equally narcissistic Ravi (Vishwam Velandy).
“Some films use odd and weird moments to be funny, but here it feels intentional…”
I liked this film a lot. Some films use odd and weird moments to be funny, but here it feels intentional. Any time you notice something strange about the plot or the characters somehow pays off throughout the story. Although, I don’t know why Eugene and Jane spoke Russian with each other. I’m sure there is a point to this as well.
Ultimately Wobble Palace is a story of loneliness. As connected as we are on our smartphones and social media, we somehow lost the ability to connect with people face-to-face. We are just as superficial in real life as we are on our newsfeed.
Wobble Place also has some intriguing music, sweetly odd set design and props. It’s a film that will surprise you if you give it a chance.
Wobble Palace (2018) Directed by Eugene Kotlyarenko. Story by Eugene Kotlyarenko, Dasha Nekrasova. Starring Dasha Nekrasova, Eugene Kotlyarenko, Jack Kilmer, and Nick Corirossi. Wobble Palace premieres as part of the Filmmaker in Focus competition at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival.
4.5 out of 5 stars