Being And Nothingness

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Being And Nothingness
"This is a dark and crisp little tale, like an icy night."

In talk of being swept up and anguish, Being And Nothingness presages a headily adolescent mixture of isolation and danger - the precipice here is not only soothing Sartre's but the signpost of the Oregon Trail. This is Wyoming ranch country, and circumstance if not destiny has brought young Lola (Sascha Nastani) here for a step into the unknown.

This is neat stuff, small domestic (melo)drama punctuated by drone shots that sweep across horses and snow like tourist board fodder. The frozen plains are not the only icy exteriors - Lola is dangerously cool, for all the self help CDs her mother (Betsy Brandt) consumes she doesn't seem much. The bigger difference is made by Ivy (Cloris Leachman) who's probably right to say that Highland cattle are leaner than salmon but the beeves on her land look a lot like Aberdeen Angus. It's a small matter in a film full of small details - Casper isn't quite a ghost town, but it's nearly dead.

A trait it shares with a few others - this is a dark and crisp little tale, like an icy night. There's "plenty of nothingness to hide the body", and the film makes good use of it. Achieving a variety of tones in its half hour or so it has a striking look. The cast is small enough that iIve only not mentioned Connor Weil's Cody and Sloane Avery's Ally who variously appear at the beginning and end of this coming of misadventure. Though few in number in these nearly empty landscapes their relationships are magnified by their proximity. There's nothing outside but the cold and remote, and plenty enough of that inside too.

Written, directed, and edited by Ashley Avis it speaks to her talents - she's due to release her second feature later this year, and it's hard not to read the horse footage here as forerunner to her involvement in the Black Beauty revisit currently in preproduction. There's a lot of experienced film-makers involved including loads of commercial experience, some of which explains what's close to glossiness on those horses and courses. That said, it's what's in front of the camera that counts, and from her cast comes something that it's hard not to fall for.

This is a chilly piece, as heady a cocktail as Xanax and red wine, and just as capable of delivering a knock-out.

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2019
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A teenager relocated to rural Wyoming sets her sights on a local ranch hand.

Director: Ashley Avis

Writer: Ashley Avis

Starring: Sascha Nastasi, Cloris Leachman, Betsy Brandt, Connor Weil, Sloane Avery

Year: 2019

Runtime: 31 minutes

Country: US

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