Henry Barrial directs the independent film Some Body, which premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. The movie tells the story of Samantha, a newly single woman in her late twenties looking for romance in Los Angeles. Shot on a digital camera, the filmmakers used multiple hand held shots together with improvised dialogue and non-actors in some roles to give the film a cinéma vérité quality.
While the look and feel give a convincing impression of a quasi-documentary the acting and script betray it. Like many small films the acting at times can be cringe inducing. Even independent films of renown like Shes Gotta Have It or Clerks suffer from poor acting but are able to overcome it with a standout performance or an inventive premise and well-written script.
The story is culled from the personal experiences of the star and co-writer Stephanie Bennett, who finds herself dissatisfied with her long-term relationship and sets out to find something new and exciting. After breaking up with her boyfriend she embarks on a series of encounters with different men that ultimately lead to disappointment or heartbreak. Contrasting with her nighttime sexual interludes are the daytime scenes of her as an elementary school teacher.
The men Samantha gets involved with initially appeal to her on a carefree, sexual level or out of sheer loneliness and desperation. As she attempts to fill the void within her by devouring these fast food encounters she finds herself only hungrier for true affection. She revels in the freedom of her singleness by night but the morning after is inevitably brutal.
One particularly disturbing encounter finds her with a guy she met in dance class, Tony T. He turns out to be of a highly dubious character, stealing from her and then later stalking her. Unfortunately what might have been played for real emotional impact ends up as a joke, with the character ruminating on the notion of a bacon and egg cologne. Nonetheless it does lend some spice to the tapestry of men Samantha meets.
Some Body deserves to be graded on a scale. After all, making an independent film is certainly no easy feat. Typically theres no money and the odds are long that the film will be picked up for release by a studio. While at times the acting is weak and the dialogue rings hollow the film does manage to hold your interest. Additionally the lead, Ms. Bennett, delivers a heartfelt performance. As an actress she doesnt break any ground but she does come off as real, which should be applauded. Its also impressive to see a film thats willing to take a hard look at what it means to be single. Its certainly no Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fairy tale and for that it deserves some respect. Im Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.
© 2002 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 5/29/02
USA - 2002