In Richard Paro’s film “An Obvious Moment of Happiness,” a group of middle-class college graduates talk about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness—conversational topics common in films where the characters don’t do much except sit, stand, or walk around and talk. The members of this circle of friends are Lyric (Richard Paro), a published writer who just returned from a book signing tour; Robin (Cyra K. Polizzi), who’s looking to change jobs; and Nate (Nicholas Owen Langholff), who just quit his. Sadie (Noel Christopher), Cliff (Ryan Alby), and Steven (Matthew Braaten) have philosophical quandaries as well but they don’t do much besides hangout.
One could conclude that nothing happens in this film, and it wouldn’t be an unfair judgment. Lyric gets a new lady friend named Maggie (Rebecca Scott, who talks like Jennifer Garner); Nate learns how to open up more; Cliff scores some luck in the romance department, but not much else happens. The characters philosophize, philosophize, and philosophize. Inconsistent audio levels muffle what could’ve been insightful remarks and over-amplify dialogue that you can’t believe was purposely scripted.
Shot in black and white, and featuring actors who simultaneously remember and forget that they’re in a movie, “An Obvious Moment of Happiness” would fare better as a reality TV show. There’s one scene in particular that epitomizes the dialogue content and camera movement of shows like MTV’s “Sorority” and WE’s “Single in the City.” Sadie and Robin take a stroll through a public park at night. With a waterfall in the background, no other people around, and a strong wind flowing through the night, it’s such a “picturesque” set. Furthermore, Sadie and Robin interact with each other very naturally. They’ve forgotten that they’re making a movie—but in a good way. There’s no unnecessary exaggeration of emotions, facial expressions, or voice volume. You almost forget that you’re watching a work of fiction. If only there were more scenes like this one.

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