Sunday, October 14, 2012
"Empire Builder"...Film 2 of the CIFF by Pamela Powell
Kris Swanberg was introduced to the audience prior to the screening. She was adorably excited to have the audience view her first film. She even took a picture of the audience! Cute! The lights dimmed and the film began. Chicago. You have to love it when you can identify backgrounds of your city. Jenny, our main character and her baby were shown playing with a cause-effect toy (remember, I'm a speech path!), showing us her boredom and longing for another world. Cut to a dinner party. More boredom and regret was obvious. Jenny then needed to pack for her trip to Montana, but it was "date night" with her husband. She wanted to cancel as she had a lot to do, but her perfect husband expressed how important it is to spend time together and that he would help in whatever way he could so that she could do both the date night and pack for the trip. Wow! He must have passed the graduate level course entitled "Husband 301!" Anyway, Mr. Perfect was a planner and a little bit compulsive with getting his wife and adorable baby to the train on time. Jenny was quite the opposite. Packing light (this coming from The Queen of Overpacking), she had no port-a-crib, no stroller, and only a couple light bags. When I travelled with my son at that age, I was prepared for everything. Maybe I was relating more to the husband than with Jenny.
I needed more. I understood Jenny's frustration with being a stay-at-home mom, but the audience wasn't given enough information about her previous life or her marriage to develop any empathy. Her husband seemed sweet, caring, and although a bit decisive, he had to be as Jenny just seemed to float through her life. I needed to care about someone other than having uneasy feelings for whether or not the baby was going to have lead poisoning from licking his fingers after touching the window sill! I needed to dislike someone to justify Jenny's need to run away. I needed dialogue and communication more than the long, ever-lingering shots of her stirring eggs. The constant dull, flat affect become monotonous. I got it. She was unhappy. I got that in the first five minutes. Let something else happen. Life happens in slow motion with monotony. Reality in a movie is fine unless it lulls you into an uncaring relationship with the characters. "Empire Builder" was a great premise with lots of promise only to let me down.
On to Market Place where (insert audible gasp here) we showed up without reservations! To the iPhone to OpenTable to take care of THAT predicament! Success!