Bound by Blue (2013) – By Philip Smolen

“How do you humans do it? Going from one day to the next like a blind man in the dark. No plan, no future, no direction. I am Blue. I can offer you more – so much more.”

And with those words a strange alien (spirit?) presents three human beings with a simple device that will help them change their lives. All three are trapped by crippling emotional problems. Cole (Richard Davies) is unable to have any contact (physical or emotional) with any other human being. Mercedes (Debbie Zukerman) is overwhelmed by guilt because she feels responsible for the death of her sister. And Penelope (Jenny Lovell) is devastated by the death of her husband of 20 years. Each struggles to follow the path that Blue has laid out for them. It will take a tremendous amount of courage and determination for each of them to complete this journey of self discovery.

“Bound by Blue” is a captivating sci-fi/fantasy indie project from director David Hawkins and producer Kate Talbot. The film was made in Melbourne, Australia for an unbelievable $978. This was made possible when the entire city of Melbourne got behind the project and dozens of artisans and craftsman and others donated materials and time to the filmmakers in order to finish the film. Hawkins and Talbot were able to pack scenes with dozens of extras and film in 30 locations throughout Melbourne. The remarkable result is a very polished and professional looking indie feature with an absorbing storyline. What’s even more amazing is that no script was written for the film. The actors were given general scene descriptions and then improvised their dialogue until Hawkins and Talbot were satisfied.

The theme of overcoming one’s fear is a timeless subject for cinema. “Bound by Blue” can be evenly divided up into three major sections representing each main character’s search for their own individual truths. All of them are fascinating to watch as they unfold, but for me the most enjoyable was Mercedes’s story. Using her dead sister’s diary, she goes about completing all of her sister’s deepest wishes as a way of assuaging her guilt. It is only when she has been able to cross off all of those tasks does she feel she can confront Blue once again.

Hawkins excels at pulling real emotions from his cast. I immediately identified with Cole, Mercedes and Penelope’s situations. Some scenes in “Bound by Blue” are so realistic that they are almost uncomfortable to watch. But it’s during these scenes that Hawkins weaves his magic.

The cast is quite amazing. Richard Davies, Debbie Zukerman and Jenny Lovell bring life and real humanity to their emotionally tortured characters. They each have a commanding and powerful screen presence.

My only concern is that the scenes with Blue don’t blend as seamlessly with the rest of the film. They would benefit from a traditional screenplay. As filmed, it’s almost as if Blue is merely a McGuffin, there solely to get the plot moving. Is he there to help the humans and take them away with him? Is he good or evil? Is he an alien or a demon? Does he have ulterior motives? The film never fully explains this.

Still, “Bound by Blue” is a moving and rewarding emotional experience. It’s a fascinating film and a celebration of all that is human. Well told, thoughtful and compelling, it successfully embraces the highest aspirations of indie film making.

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