Spring Forward Movie Review

People will compare it to My Dinner with Andre. They will inevitably be wrong. People will assume that it has something to do with Daylight Savings Time. They, too, will be wrong. People will assume that just because Michael Stipe executive produced this film, it will end up seeming like Being John Malkovich. They, too, will be wrong. In point of fact Spring Forward is that rare gem, a film with no brothers or sisters to deal with, no son to look down upon or father to look up to. In the family tree of American cinema, the most Spring Forward can have are a few distant cousins.

So what is Spring Forward? Simply put, Spring Forward is unique. It is not unique in the sense of Being John Malkovich or Spectres of the Spectrum (a uniqueness tainted with the surreal), but instead unique in the point of fact that it a movie that has no plot, that has no centralized point or purpose... that has nothing but characters. The characters are Murph (Ned Beatty) and Paul (Schreiber), two city parks department workers in Connecticut who spend one year talking while on the job.

The film starts in Spring, when Paul starts his first job after getting out of prison. It ends a year later, when Murph leaves his job for retirement. Paul is a bookworm. Murph has common sense. Paul is philosophical. Murph is practical. The two characters are in almost every single way opposed to each other, except for the fact that they are both incredibly charismatic. This mutual charisma incites Paul and Murph to form a sort of paternal bond, and for the rest of the movie, with sit in quiet contention and complete fascination as we listen to some of the most brilliant conversation ever captured on screen.

Writer-director Tom Gilroy, an actor himself, created a true actor's haven. He unleashed Schreiber and Beatty not only on the audiences, but on each other, and the result is the kind of completely natural interaction that you run across in real life. The dialogue is sharp, the direction on-target. But that is not what makes Spring Forward incredible.

As a film, what makes Spring Forward so absolutely incredible is its ability to challenge the audience. As I sit and think about the one small problem that Spring Forward has, pacing (if the characters are ever silent, you begin to glance at your watch), I realize that the fate of Spring Forward is not in it's stars, or its director or producers, but in ourselves. Spring Forward is a movie that, having no narrative, lives entirely in the gray. When you perceive Spring Forward as slow, you lose sight of the fact that, in order for a movie to be either slow or fast, it must be moving in the first place. Spring Forward does not move. Spring Forward does not progress. Spring Forward simply is.

And, provided you can let go of conventional thought long enough to enjoy Spring Forward's just being there, Spring Forward simply is worth every second you spend in the theatre.


Comments

Spring Forward Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: NR, 1999

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