Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
THE LIVING WAKE
Directed by: Sol Tryon
Running time: 91 min.
Release date: May 14, 2010
Genre: Drama and Comedy
Distributor: Original Media presentation in association with Drops Entertainment
MPAA Rating: Not rated
In the world of dark comedies, absurdity is one of the major elements of the genre. The imaginative tale by screenplay, writer and actor Mike O'Connell, along with the directorial influence of Sol Tryon, manages to give the morbid circumstance of death a new translation. The Living Wake displays an off-beat and musically filtered satirical spin.
The opening scene of The Living Wake immediately captures a quirky mood of how a self-proclaimed artist and genius, K. Roth Binew (Mike O'Connell), decides he is going to die in one day.
On his one day to live, Binew sets outs with his rickshaw powered bicycling friend Mills Joaquin (Jesse Eisenberg) to give out invitations to his living wake party. As Mills transports Binew around the town and countryside, episodes of silliness occur and re-occur. The party (wake) is to be held on a stage in an open field where Binew's few friends and many enemies can sit through a performance of songs and eulogies.
I was impressed with the mock newsreel, titled "The Life and Times of K. Roth Binew", which opened the film. My response was of amazement and excitement since I was watching something new and different on film. This mock newsreel was a backstory explaining how Binew's wealthy con artist father Lampert Binew (Jim Gaffigan) left the family when he was a small boy. Young Binew was raised by his nanny Marla (Diane Kagan) and was guided into the artsy culture. Yet he kept the swindling persona his father passed onto him. He grew up to be an eccentric wealthy man that most people disliked and some barely could contend with.
The pacing of the film so far is crisp and the development of the plot is right on target. I felt that I was watching a piece of film mastery. I watched the strange and bizarre characters jumping out of the screen at me with witty dialogue and sharp sarcasm. Each person Binew and Mills encountered on their "before death journey" was asked the question that haunted Binew all of his life. The question is, "What was my daddy's final monologue"?
It was strange that this question was asked of the many people Binew meet, because at this time and place of the film, the dialogue turns to monologue. All of a sudden, the plot's texture loses its continuity and takes a dive.
The once humorously clever movie I was watching suddenly turned sour. The recurring scenarios became too repetitive and the musical numbers were not easy on the ears. What is to be funny and witty songs became merely senseless lyrics accompanied by instruments.
I applaud the concept of the actual wake scene. Unfortunately, the editing of the mostly musical wake scene (finale) is 30 minutes long. It bored me after 15 minutes. Perhaps, if the film gave more time to the "before death journey" scenes with the talented Mike O'Connell and Jesse Eisenberg meeting and the colorful supporting characters (played by Eddie Pepitone, Ann Dowd, Rebecca Comerfield, Peter Paton, Stephen Brian Jones, Colombe Jacobson-Derstine, Harlan Baker and Ami Ankin), The Living Wake would have said more to me. It is too bad that it just could not hold up its good pace that was set in the beginning.
The Living Wake, brilliantly starts off with a bang. However, the light of brilliance dimmers as the curtain falls.
FILM RATING (C)