To say that Kirsten (Hari Leigh) is spinning her wheels and getting nowhere in life would be an understatement. Getting drunk almost nightly and barely working at her part-time job at Shakespeare’s Pizza, her life seems completely devoid of ambition or responsibility. While that doesn’t seem to bother her much, her roommate Katie (Amy Seimetz) is no longer finding Kirsten’s lack of consideration charming, and when an opportunity to buy the house that the two live in comes up, Katie decides to make the more responsible move, whether or not Kirsten is involved.
Small Pond is a character study and an ode to small towns, where people can easily disappear in the day-to-day grind as years go by. While Kirsten isn’t the most likeable of characters at first, she’s also not as inconsiderate as she seems. She’s stuck in a rut, simply, and she’s heading toward rock bottom.
And when she hits that rock bottom, the film delivers one of the more sudden and disturbing moments around. Disturbing for the visuals alone, sure, but also because you knew something bad was eventually going to come her way. Life’s wake-up calls come in different forms, but they’re usually not subtle.
But I feel like I’m doing the film a disservice. Reading the previous paragraphs, I think it would be easy to chalk this up to some indie film stereotype where everyone is brooding, dark and drunk in a small town where nothing happens, but that is not what this film is at all. It’s extremely easy on the eyes and mind, and it’s mostly disturbing in how relatable it all is, especially if you’ve ever lived in a small town.
I’ve known people like Kirsten all my life, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Some embrace a certain lifestyle, some get stuck in it but seldom are they bad people. This is not a dark film; Kirsten is a cynical sort, but it never gets cloyingly emo. It’s authentic, which is probably why it has such a powerful impact.
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