Starring Jena Malone, Chloë Sevigny, Luke Grimes, Devon Gearhart
The rumor was that 20 people walked out of the premiere for The Wait at SXSW. I can’t attest to that, but at the final screening I witnessed five people leave before the end. The Wait isn’t a good movie by any argument, but certainly not the worst at SXSW. However, this is the second year in a row Jena Malone has been on the talent attendee list and failed to show up (her film last year, In Our Nature, was better received). Still, The Wait showcases some unique ideas and at least interesting performances. Chloe Sevigny (Zodiac, The Brown Bunny) is one of those actresses you can depend on to always land herself in obscure, head scratching roles.
We first meet sisters Angela (Malone) and Emma (Sevigny) standing above their deceased mother. Emma, a hospice nurse, is crying while Angela dresses their mother in her burial gown. Emma hears the phone ring and when she answers it, hears a voice telling her everything will be ok and that they just need to wait, that she will return. Emma takes the bizarre call as a sign that their mother’s soul has not departed and insists they have a party and keep the body until their mother returns. Angela opposes this but goes along with it as she flirts with a local boy in hopes of finally having the courage to end her lifeless marriage.
The Wait showcases some unique ideas and at least interesting performances.
Writer/director M. Bash has a lot of different storylines happening at the same time; all are related, but not only do the sisters have their individual narratives but also their younger brother Ian (Greenhart), who seems to be on an emotional quest while dealing with the romantic advances from his best friend. After that phone call, Emma says “this could make news…” and at that point the audience doesn’t understand what angle this film is headed in. Spiritual might be the best word for it, as we often see extremely visible planets in the sky and the distant fires in Oregon keep smoke and ash blowing through the foreground.
The Wait isn’t boring because each character is developed enough to keep my interest, at least. The characters here seem to view themselves as older, more serious than their face value. What the film doesn’t do well is pace itself. The sleepy little town, likely why it was chosen, eases the story along. While interesting, I feared that nothing would ever be explained and these characters would fade into the credits without exploring what they seemed eager to. There is a definite ending, but it isn’t a satisfying one.
Interesting is the best thing you could say about it.