Leave Me Like You Found Me
Director & Screenwriter: Adele Romanski Big trees, broken hearts. The story of a lovesick couple’s breakup & makeup while camping in the wilds of California. Cast: Megan Boone, David Nordstrom (World Premiere)
Film Synopsis (from SXSW.com)
WHO'S IT FOR?: Fans of slow films that pay off in time. This is definitely not a date movie, nor the ideal movie to watch when binging on post break up self-loathing and/or ice cream.
Though it wasn't given any awards recognition by SXSW this year, Adele Romanski's Leave Me Like You Found Me is the winner of my unofficial annual "Blue Valentine Award," for the way in which it uses conversations from my life's (and yours, probably) script, and then beautifully realizes these moments with two raw performances. This powerful story is about how it's simply not natural to be with some people, despite all of our desperate efforts to make it so.
Leave Me Like You Found Me doesn't worry much about its back story, such as fully explaining how the re-united couple decided to take a camping trip together in the first place. From the movie's natural dialogue, we are given bits of their former life together, but the conversations about the "now" soon become the most apparent. The past is past, but the present is what must be dealt with immediately.
Promising performers Boone and Nordstrom are gifted at showing a couple's lack of chemistry, and through them we get an organic understanding of how their relationship does and definitely doesn't work. They are just as talented at showing their compatibility as they are presenting the small conflicts that turn into large episodes when a relationship's strength has weakened to toxicity. Even if you don't know the full backgrounds of these characters, you still strongly side and identify with them.
Romanski's film makes strong poetic use out of its California woods landscape, which includes dwarfing sequoia and a bridge that is constructed like a V - you must walk down in order to go back up. While the story of a dissolving relationship has certainly been shared many times before, the unique setting of the woods benefits one of the story's ideas that our relationship problems are so much smaller compared to the size and permanence of nature, especially magnificent sequoia.
If anything, sometimes Leave Me Like You Found Me can be faulted for stressing a message that seems simple: the importance of honest communication. However, anyone who has been lost in a relationship like the one in Romanski's melodious film might argue that such a concept is much more daunting, and unnatural, in the most overwhelming of circumstances.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10