Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"It's not awful, it's just not good."

Brothers Evangelos and George Giovanis want to make movies. Quoting their Kickstarter (which seems fair, since they quote themselves on the Campaign page), "Try telling a producer 'we don't make movies to make money, we make money to make movies.'" With that Kickstarter they achieved their funding goal in 2013, becoming, apparently, only the 129th film project on Kickstarter to break the $100,000 barrier. That's a budget of 0.1% of The Wolf Of Wall Street, a whole one tenth of one fifth of another fifth of one 17th of Avatar.

It's also what Eraserhead cost, and this is not in the league of any of these. It's not awful, it's just not good. Not good in a way that has Jane Seymour demanding "tell me why you don't want my cake". Not good in a way that has Malcolm McDowell declining an invitation to the track because he "can't taste the mayonnaise". "You know I'm just an unemployed violinist" says someone, and we didn't, and it doesn't matter.

Copy picture

There are musings on mortality, morality and marriage, and mediocrity is the consequence. The effort is to be applauded, the cast are a coup, but sparks of actorly brilliance in this sea of disjoint are drowned, overshadowed by oddities of locale and script and everything else. Bereave is at once the grabbed bag of treasures and gew-gaws, identifiable best bits coveted and snatched and thrown together, and the ransacked ruin, a suggestion of past order stripped of centrepiece and cohesiveness.

There is exposition as clumsy as declarations of string-musician joblessness and weird hollows of character where journey from rags to gorgeous condominiums go unexplained. There's a sense of a meditation on death and age and family and all that deep portentous stuff but it feels like adolescent poetry at times. There are digressions through the tooth fairy, diversions like fencing, a sense that someone had a vision but, too close, did not realise it was blurred - Icarus as director, reaching for the stars but falling apart.

Crowd-funding has been tried in film long before platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter arrived, but successes like Iron Sky or Blue Ruin mean that projects that might struggle have a shot. Even films funded by other means can turn to crowds - Preaching To The Perverted sought money for a re-master (no pun intended) and re-release, and The Wrecking Crew gathered funds for distribution. It's not the be all and end all - Chuck Norris Vs Communism had an unsuccessful Indiegogo but came to the attention of HBO, and Uwe Boll didn't meet his funding goal either. No stranger to using small amounts of other people's money, Boll told Eye For Film about "driving from dentist to dentist, convincing bankers and so on to make bigger and bigger movies".

Uwe's a touchstone, because he really loves making movies, and given the efforts the brothers Giovanis have made they clearly do too. Like Boll, they also have a history with boxing, and that same fighting spirit is evident. Back in 2011 they gave interviews about the project which at that point hoped to feature Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich, and (title-change aside) it's to their credit that they've nursed a project as long and managed something at the end - it's just a shame that, as with many labours of love, the creators' passion for their project seems to have left them blind to its faults. On the website for Bereave they talk about growing up in the family restaurant business, and there's a lesson there - it doesn't matter how good the ingredients are if the recipe doesn't work.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2015
Share this with others on...
A 40th wedding anniversary is a special day... but there's a gun in the bedroom.


EIFF 2015

Search database:

If you like this, try:

21 Grams