Alienated (2015) – By Kirsten Walsh

 

As a kid growing up, “Angels in the Outfield” (1994) was a movie that had a long life span in my parents’ VCR. In that film, one of my favorite scenes involved a man wearing a rain poncho covered in ketchup and mustard. In the 2015 film, “Alienated”, that man who wore the rain poncho, Taylor Negron, co-stars in his final film alongside Jen Burry and George Katt. Unfortunately, Negron, age 57, passed away from cancer early last year. The film features Negron as the creepy neighbor next door, while the film focuses on the relationship between Katt’s “Nate” and Burry’s “Paige” as their relationship suffers under the pressure of disbelief and trust.

The movie is a bit of a dry spell. That being said, the subject matter and the dissection of the relationship is fascinating. But fans of Bruce Willis movies might not be able to sit still for as long as the film takes. The slow burn of Nate and Paige discussing the issues of a painting that was gifted to Nate that means more than just the paint slapped onto the canvas. The discussion is such a visceral, true discussion, the subtext revealing some deeper emotions within the two’s marriage. The best line from that sequence is simply: “You can’t overanalyze it, you have to experience it.” That line is so applicable through the entirety of the film, and even beyond that, into the viewer.

The film has some issues with sound and overall music balancing, with some of the sound effects- especially in the opening credits and first few scenes- way too loud, while the NPR dialogue slightly is too quiet, which made me quite nervous to turn the volume up just to hear it. The lighting is excellent in some scenes, but too dark in others, such as the opening scene, featuring Nate outside seeing an UFO. While the abstract lighting in the dark scenes- especially the color green in the kitchen sequence- may have been intentional, the variety in the lighting extending over to the daytime scenes doesn’t work well with my specific view. Some detail is being lost in the darkness, as well as some facial expressions, which is a bit awkward in a close up. However, there is one shot in particular- an outline shot- roughly forty five minutes in that is just a beautiful image.

Katt and Burry are on point with their dysfunctional relationship, and do a fabulous job setting up the intimacies and subtleties of their companionship throughout the film. The display of sacrifice and selfishness is so relative to a lot of the modern relationships that mid-aged couples find themselves in.

Ultimately, the film was dramatic build up to an odd ending. A lot of movies today tend to fizzle out and the ending is cheapened, but not this one. While I will say the ending didn’t really make a lot of sense to me, it was still cool and intriguing to watch.

Would I watch this film again? Probably, as this film seems to have a lot of subtle nuances, both on the technical side and within the story that makes it a worthwhile watch.