Custody (2005) – By Duane L. Martin

 While I don’t have any children, and I haven’t been divorced, I still found it in me to identify with the feelings of being lost and unsure about the future that Rick Stevens (Eric Stuyvesant) was having to deal with. See, his wife one day decided that she didn’t really possess the mommy gene and that she would rather slut around than to have the responsibility of being a married, stable parent. To that end, she filed for divorce and up and left her husband and her three kids to fend for themselves. The problem is, Rick has never really had any direction or focus in his life, and now he suddenly finds himself in the position of having to be the responsible, stable parent.

He finally found a really low paying job, but he had the problem of what to do with his three young children all day. To that end, he managed to locate a day care provider. Unfortunately, the ridiculously low wages he was making couldn’t pay for their utterly crappy services and he had to look for another alternative.

Enter Melanie Simmers (Marisa Tomasic). She’s a single parent who’s just lost her job, and after going to endless job interviews, finally gives up and puts up flyers offering herself as an in home babysitter. Rick calls her and that not only leads to a new strong female figure entering the home, but also leads to romance for Rick and a mother figure for his kids to attach themselves to. Eventually the kids’ real mother decides she wants to see them for a few hours, which causes some major problems between Rick and Melanie, but in the end…well you’ll just have to watch it and find out what happens.

Now I want to say that this movie isn’t what I expected it to be at all. I thought it was going to be some ninety minute bore-fest drama thing about bad relationships and how it affects the kids and what not. I wasn’t even really looking forward to watching it. What I discovered though was something completely different. This movie has a lot of surreal / symbolic scenes in it that really drive home what the characters are feeling. Not only are they imaginative, but they’re quite fun as well. Not only that, there’s actually a lot of great humor in this movie, most of which works really well and had me laughing quite a bit. Surprisingly, some of the best humor came from the kids and things that they said or did.

The look of the film was very well done. The camera work was really good and there was even one wrap around scene that was rather unexpected and something you don’t really see in too many indie films because it’s a hard shot to pull off. The editing kept the story moving at a good pace and there weren’t really any times where I felt like it was dragging or like I was watching a scene that was totally unnecessary to the telling of the story.

The acting in this film ranged from really amateurish to really good. I have to give kudos especially to Marisa Tomasic who pulled off her character brilliantly. I’m also going to go into guy mode here for a second and make the comment that this movie is worth watching just to look at her. My god she’s beautiful. Ok, guy mode off now. Eric Stuyvesant, the film’s director, did a good job playing the father as well. He seemed like someone who was totally lost and not really in control of his circumstances and didn’t really know how to deal with it or what to do. Heidi Bankz played Rick’s wife Cynthia, and came off as well…just a waste of skin really. As I watched her on the screen, all I could think to myself was, "Who’s runnin’ Hell while she’s up here?" She did a really good job playing the uncaring, unfeeling bitch who thought nothing of abandoning her three kids because they had become an inconvienience to her. Her confrontation in the bar with Melanie just makes you want to reach through the screen and knock her into the middle of next week. And as for the kids, they were all great. Zachary Semeslberger played Melanie’s son Zach and came off really natural in the role. He acted and delivered his lines just like any normal kid his age would act. I guess maybe that’s why a lot of kids make good actors. They’re just being themselves without worrying about getting the line delivery just right or doing all the little technical things that the adult actors are constantly thinking about. Eric Stuyvesant’s three kids, Nick, Kris, and Phillip all played his kids in the film as well, and all three did a great job for just the same reason that Zachary did. They were natural about what they were doing. I’m sure it was easier for them too since they were actually acting with their real life father, so the comfort factor was there for them to just be themselves.

The long and the short of it is, this was a nice, enjoyable, fun and entertaining movie. Maybe since I went into it with low expectations I enjoyed it more than I otherwise would have, but I don’t think so. I watched it and took it at face value and in the end I really felt good about this film. I think you will too.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, check out the trailer, or order yourself a copy, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.lucidvisionentertainment.com/custody.htm.