In Our Nature
Director & Screenwriter: Brian Savelson Taking place over a single weekend, an estranged father and son accidentally end up in the same country house with their two girlfriends. Cast: Zach Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery, Gabrielle Union (World Premiere)
Film Synopsis (from SXSW.com)
WHO'S IT FOR?: If you like John Slattery, don't miss this one. If you like Gabrielle Union when she's actually acting, don't miss this one. If you're interested in seeing a dialogue-driven movie that rarely feels boring, definitely don't miss this one.
At SXSW this year there were many notable victories in acting, writing, and directing, but no movie achieved such a hat trick more impressively than In Our Nature. It is such a strong movie that it features four people talking about their problems, and it's actually really exciting. These are conversations you care to tune into, with performances that win you over with their natural charisma. It feels breezier than a chamber drama, yet more serious than a dysfunctional family comedy. It's light '80s era Bergman-inspired Woody Allen, without the somber neuroses.
In Our Nature even starts out strong - it's the first time I've ever heard an audience cheer someone driving out of a tough parking spot, and such a moment happens seconds into the movie.
Based around a weekend at a summer house, everything plays out naturally in this film. The editing is able to handle the weight of such a wordy script, as the movie never feels slow. The cinematography artfully shoots the center house on the inside and out, and sometimes (quite effectively) at the same time.
One scene that will particularly stand out for me in my entire SXSW Film experience is the moment in which Slattery and Malone (who offer incredible turns) interact on the front porch outside. The chemistry between the two makes for magnetic viewing, and it just flows between them so easily. This moment (in which Slattery's stiff character smokes a joint) is funny, and poignant. The peppering of sexual tension between the two is a subtextual bonus.
Though working with mental drama, the dialogue is never clunky, and only one extra twist at the end of this drama feels unwelcome. The due praise for In Our Nature is across the board; this is highly impressive craftsmanship from newcomer Brian Savelson, who absolutely deserves our attention in the coming years.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10