By Phil Hall | November 29, 2004

“Garden of Eden” is a well-made but none-too-compelling short film about a struggling artist/photographer who returns to his native Kansas after 10 unsuccessful years in New York. He hopes to reconnect with his old girlfriend, but he discovers she is living with their former art professor. The professor, a wheelchair-bound old grump, is in poor health — but he is frisky enough to keep the young lady occupied as his nurse/maid/muse/model/lover. Needless to say, the visiting artist resents that set up and decides to insert himself into the picture.

At a half-hour’s running time, “Garden of Eden” barely scratches the emotional surface of this unlikely triangle. It is never clear why the young and attractive woman (who apparently has no friends or family) would devote herself exclusively to her cantankerous, white bearded old professor. It is easy to predict how the story will boil, but the film’s late plot twists literally come out of nowhere, creating melodrama in lieu of mature story resolution.

However, the film is beautifully produced and crafted. Jonathan Wenstrup’s graceful cinematography and Mitchell Robe’s subtle music score beautiful rival any major Hollywood offering. As the young leads, Michael Louden and Avery Clyde are attractive and (not surprisingly) get to spend a fair amount of time minus the confines of clothing. Glenn Q. Pierce’s professor resembles Santa Claus with an advanced case of syphilis, which makes it easy to see why the lovely Ms. Clyde is eager to rip the shirt off the buff Mr. Louden. Mercifully, filmmaker David Quantic spared us the notion of a three-way with this off-balanced trio.

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