Forgetting the Girl

One of the harsh realities of the film festival circuit is that even the most well received, truly independent features (those not featuring, say, three or four big stars taking a swing at an arty filler project between studio fare) stand the chance of getting lost in the shuffle. Forgetting the Girl, which played recently at Cinequest, is one of those indies that deserves a shot at wider distribution. A psychological drama that arrives at its tension naturally and a character study about damaged souls whose orbits begin to exert a further destabilizing gravitational pull on one another, director Nate Taylor's debut feature exudes a smooth, easy hold throughout.



The movie opens with a sort of direct-address confessional by photographer Kevin Wolfe (Christopher Denham), a socially yearning New Yorker obsessed with finding a girl who can help him forget his turbulent past, which includes painful memories of his younger sister's death many years ago. He does this by habitually asking out any and all girls who come in for their head shots, which seems to further irritate and unsettle his depressed and quasi-suicidal assistant, Jamie (Lindsay Beamish, above center).

After a one-night stand with Adrienne (Anna Camp), Kevin tries to spin their relationship into something more, but Adrienne rebuffs him. His desperation again surges, but Kevin seems to finally find refuge with the pretty, nice Beth (Elizabeth Rice, quite natural and charming). When it's discovered that Adrienne is missing, however, some of Kevin's engrained troublesome behaviors flare up. This, along with some of Jamie's actions, lead to more instability.

Working from a script by Peter Moore Smith, Taylor manages to ably capture a disparate array of emotions in his movie's compact running time — everything from the commingled terror and simple pleasure of reaching for a girl's hand to the crushing isolation of romantic rejection. There's a smooth confidence at work here that never tips over into flamboyance or stylistic overreach. Taylor and cinematographer Mark Pugh also concoct an imaginative visual template that greatly benefits the material, a la last year's indie standout Bellflower.

If the late-developing plot strand related to Jamie feels a bit less well sketched than the movie's main story (there's a bit of a problem with narrative focus), it at least still achieves an interesting crescendo that is creepy without coming across as completely unearned or inane. The performances, too, are superlative almost across the board. Denham (of the forthcoming Sound of My Voice) in particular gives a solid turn. Vocally, and in a few small mannerisms, he recalls Topher Grace; there's a certain lilting, lyrical cadence which embodies a robust inner monologue in Kevin, shot through with uncertainty. The audience, meanwhile, is tethered to him, and along for that queasy ride. For more information, visit ForgettingTheGirl.com. (Full Stealth Films, unrated, 85 minutes)

 

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  • 4/18/2012 1:57 PM StarSeed wrote:
    Great review -- i caught this at Cinequest, and was really impressed. Looking forward to seeing Denham in "Sound of My Voice," about which I've also heard quite good things.
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