John Francis (Evan Casey) is a gifted dungeon master, but life is calling for him to move on and away from his friends. As he tries to figure out the best way to break it to his best friend John Alex (Cameron McNary), his unrequited love Tara (Gwen Grastorf) and other gamers Jason (Ricardo Frederick Evans), Linda (Rebecca A. Herron) and Brandon (Greg Thompson), Jason announces that he’ll be enlisting in the armed forces, and will be leaving himself. John Francis then must decide not just what to do for himself, but what he can do to help his friends in this time of sudden and drastic change.
While Kelley Slagle’s Of Dice and Men is an amusing film and a pleasant overall experience, I wasn’t particularly blown away by it. The performances are fine, and the film is technically strong, but for whatever reason I didn’t care all that much about what happens. It felt like a short’s worth of narrative interest in a feature length film.
But it’s not like you can remotely dismiss the film. Again, it is put together well and is particularly wonderful when the film decides to give you a look into the fantasy realm of the players’ characters. Visually the composition is strong, the edit is tight, creative and the momentum doesn’t drag. And yet, I was all very “meh” with it as I watched.
Maybe it’s the narrative conflicts in the film; I needed more than the impact of Jason enlisting, or John Francis deciding whether he should move or not. Maybe I didn’t completely engage with the gravity of that situation; I understood the importance to the players, but I wasn’t emotionally invested.
Which is unfortunate. Objectively, I found little to fault with the film. I think the filmmakers and the performers in the film are all very competent and capable. Of Dice and Men just left me cold, even as I can’t deny its talents or heart.
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