Graphic designer Jamie (Zach White) and college student Kacie (Taylor Hastings) have been in a relationship long enough for family and friends to start questioning whether an engagement is around the corner. For Jamie and Kacie, however, it’s not that clear. While there is nothing glaringly wrong with their relationship, both are starting to feel disconnected from the other. They’re sharing physical space with each other, but they’re not in the same place.
Jamie eventually becomes intrigued with another woman, Cassandra (Jennifer Kobelt), who he meets at a party. At the same time, Kacie is going through similar mental escapades with someone else. Eventually, Jamie, wanting to see Kacie happy, pushes her to pursue her interest while proclaiming he’ll still be there for her as a best friend, hoping some time away will rekindle their feelings for each other. In theory, sure it’ll work. In practice…
Brendan Prost’s Spaces and Reservations is a simple tale given ample time to breathe. The synopsis above may seem concise, and it does cover most of the film, but those developments come at a very deliberate, almost glacial, pace. And yet, for a film that is well over two hours long, it never feels overly indulgent or bloated. It’s broad, but not boring.
This has much to do with the way it perfectly captures the subtlety and silences of a relationship going downhill. Most romantic dramas or comedies turn on severe, obvious conflicts that set the stakes in a way you can’t deny. Someone is cheating on someone else, or is abusive, etc. Here, though, any infidelity is one of interest; Jamie and Kacie are so content with each other, they don’t interest each other anymore. Neither person is mean, or unsympathetic. If you asked them why they broke up, they might have little reasons to express beyond the vague; this is the type of story for which the phrase “drifted apart” was created.
The film’s tone and pacing reflects that idea of drifting. If you’ve ever been out in the water when the currents are strong, you’re well aware that if you stop paying attention to where you are, where you are can change pretty drastically, usually without much fanfare. One second you’re at one point, close your eyes and float, and suddenly you’re nowhere near where you were. Jamie and Kacie stopped looking at each other in a truthful sense, let their minds do the work for them, and their minds drifted in different directions.
Which is my way of saying that Spaces and Reservations effectively conveys the tale it sets out to tell, and all the emotional subtleties that come along with it. It’s not a film for those who have extremely short attention spans, as the pacing can be a challenge if you don’t immediately relate or connect with the material. In its way, it is like watching a relationship end in real time, and that’s not going to be for everyone. It has its moments of drama, but it is not overwrought or full of scene-chewing. More like heads bowed as those involved try not to make eye contact with the emotional mess they’re in.
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