Deliberately paced. It’s a film critic’s way of saying that the film is slow, that little happens, but saying it in a positive way (because few have any qualms about shouting “boring and slow” if said film could be deemed as such). Films that unfold in such a purposeful manner can usually leave you either intrigued or bored out of your skull. Lucky for me, I felt more of the former then the latter when it comes to “Big Heart City.”
“Big Heart City” tells the tale of Frank Polowski (Shawn Andrews), a seemingly slow-witted, though extremely imaginative man who returns to his apartment after a 6-month absence to find his pregnant girlfriend is no longer around. Unable to accept that his girlfriend may’ve decided he wasn’t worth waiting for, Frank spends his days telling his new boss (Sam Cassel) imaginative stories about saving money for a huge wedding, a child on the way and all types of domestic bliss that, simply, isn’t actually happening. With the rest of his time, Frank tries to find out what may or may not have happened to his girlfriend.
As I said, Frank isn’t the brightest. A gambling addict, he’s the type of personality that uses phrases like “sure thing” when he obviously has never converted on such luck ever in his life. And, since he’s our protagonist, we piece together events at his pace, which is why things unfold as slowly as they do.
I don’t think that’s a bad thing, mainly because, barring something extraordinary happening, it’s pretty easy to surmise exactly what happened while Frank was away. But that brings up the question of whether Frank is really that slow, or just in denial at the obvious answers to all of his questions. The latter adds another layer to the character and illustrates the strength of this particular character study.
Shawn Andrews tackles the Frank role well, bringing to life a character that is at times as sweet as he is dim-witted and creepy; as whimsical as he is dangerous. And, of course, Seymour Cassel continues his long career with another memorable role, being both the accomplice to Frank’s fantasies and the type of hard-love adult the childish Frank could use in his unraveled life.
In the end, “Big Heart City” is not going to be for everyone. The tone is as gritty as the look, the pace as slow as the main character. If you’re a fan of character pieces that are more about connecting with one person’s story and following through with it (without the typical, over-the-top, time for the big indie film twists and turn developments), then this is a quality film to experience.