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By Brad Wilke | December 18, 2008

“Mattie Fresno and the Holoflux Universe”, a feature film by Philip Gerard Gallo, is a bit of a mess.

Dr. Raff Buddemeyer (Orson Bean) plays a Nobel Prize-winning physicist that leaves a videotaped will for his granddaughter, Mattie Fresno (Angela Pierce). During the course of the video, Dr. Buddemeyer explains the Holoflux Universe (or, colloquially: A Unified Theory of What Is) to Mattie.

After we are given a boatload of exposition during an interrogation session (full of multiple flashbacks and stand-alone vignettes) which includes such helpful dialogue as: “So you were in the lawyer’s office watching the video…”, old Dr. Buddemeyer gets inside Mattie’s head and we’re off to the races…

After watching her grandfather’s video, Mattie begins having some crazy hallucinations. She goes from doctor to doctor in an attempt to find out what is wrong with her, but nobody is able to offer a reasonable explanation for her condition. While this is happening… Well, maybe I should just refer you to the synopsis on the website:

“At the family-owned PR-firm, she [Mattie] becomes involved in a bizarre plot to save the reputation of the firm’s top client, Phoebe Lynn (played by Carol Alt!?!)…Mattie lands in jail for murder conspiracy, when Phoebe Lynn is assassinated in revenge for a horrific industrial accident.”


The only thing bizarre or horrific about this movie is Carol Alt’s performance. But I digress…

The real problem here is two-fold. The first fold is the flashback-laden structure employed to tell this story. Most of the events are related by Mattie via flashback during her confinement in a jail cell. Her cellmate (Ellen Cleghorne) asks a question, Mattie introduces a flashback. Repeat. The second fold is the reliance on non-sequitur vignettes, inserted out of sequence, that fill in blanks (but mostly introduce more questions) in the story. There are also a series of supposedly surrealistic “dream” sequences (or are they her hallucinations?) that are meant as comic relief (I think), but only add to the general sense of confusion in the story line.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy a non-linear structure just as much as the next film snob, but it should always be in the service of a good story. Which this, unfortunately, isn’t. In fact, it gets to the point where you can actually imagine the writers (Steve Bretschneider and Philip Gallo) sitting around between scenes wondering what sort of wackiness they can dream up before the crew finishes lighting the next shot (or how they might get out of the tight spot they’ve worked themselves into because of the last one).

I really think what happened here is that the filmmaking team tried to find a way to shoehorn all of their good ideas into this one story, whether or not they actually fit. Taken on a micro level, there are some pretty decent concepts here. But as a whole, it never really coalesces into a coherent feature-length film.

p.s. I don’t want to give away the ending, so I’ll just say this: it must be seen to be believed.

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