Remembering Phil (2008) – By Duane L. Martin

Phil Winters (Nicholas Turturo) is having a really bad day. First he arrives back home and finds out the airline has not only lost his luggage, but they also don’t have any record of him even being on the flight. Then he goes home and he has no messages from anyone, and no e-mails either. Then his power goes off, his bank doesn’t even remember he has an account there, he’s been replaced at his job as a television script writer, his secretary has been replaced and no one seems to know who he is. On top of that, his bank forgets he has an account there, so he’s broke, his lawyer and his therapist are both on vacation. Broke and completely at a loss as to what he can do about any of it, he goes to a bar to forget his troubles for a while. Unfortunately, trouble finds him in the form of a girl named Debbie (Christine Murphy), who seems to be the only one who knows who he is and claims to be his long lost daughter from a girl he used to know in college who wouldn’t give him the time of day. Initially he blows her off, thinking she’s crazy, but he’s broke and no one seems to remember him, so desperate for some human contact, he takes her back to his apartment, where he now finds that it’s been emptied out. That’s when things really start to go wrong.

I won’t get into everything that happens in the movie in the description here. Suffice it to say that Phil’s life basically falls apart in a very Twilight Zonish way.

This film, unlike many indie films I come across, is full of big name actors. Names like Nicholas Turturo, Dan Castellaneta, Joanne Kelly, and more. Castellaneta plays the therapist Phil sees when his turns out out be on vacations, while Joanne Kelly plays his ex-wife who works for an independent film maker who’s sort of artsy and out there, played by Steve Valentine. The second I found out that Joanne Kelly was in this film, I knew I had to review it. I’m a huge Warehouse 13 fan and Joanne Kelly is one of my two big celebrity crushes along with Anna Faris.

Christina Murphy plays Debbie, Phil’s "daughter", who turns out to not really be his daughter, but rather some mysteriously bizarre person that’s entered into his life who always manages to have unexplainable ways to sort of smooth the way for him, while causing him major problems at the same time. She did a really good job of playing up that bizarre aura that flowed out of that character.

I think the only real problem I had with the film upon first watching it, is that I was constantly looking for plot holes. The airline had no record of him and his luggage had vanished, so why was his apartment still there, why was there still power, why did he still have an internet account, etc…. These things bothered me until later in the film when you discover that his life is vanishing incrementally rather than all at once. So the farther along the movie progresses, his life and relationships continue vanishing, until at last, he really has nothing left, and only two options. Start over completely from scratch and rebuild a new life, or take Debbie’s offer, which I won’t reveal here. There really is only one option open to him, because he doesn’t have much of a choice. You’ll have to watch the film to find out what that option is however.

This film, from a technical standpoint, is shot very professionally and edited nicely, yet it has a strange flow to it and still maintains the look of an independent film. The real standout for me from a production standpoint was the music. I was fortunate enough to have been sent a CD of the soundtrack along with the film. The entire musical score of this film, with only one exception I can think of that doesn’t appear on the sountrack, is comprised of some really great jazz music. The entire CD is filled with 17 wonderful tracks of nothing but jazz music, and something about this music really fits well with the story of the film.

All in all, this is an interesting film. I went into it thinking it was going to be more of a comedy, but it really wasn’t. There’s an amusing bit here and there, but mostly it’s really just a Twilight Zoneish style of drama with a bit of a message to it. Once you get past looking for plot holes and understand how the events are unfolding, the message of the story will start really sinking in, and while some might suspect what the ending will be, for others it will be somewhat surprising, which is why I didn’t want to reveal anything here. So check it out if you get a chance, and if you’re a fan of great jazz, you’ll want to grab a copy of the soundtrack as well.

The DVD and the soundtrack (CD / MP3) are both available from Amazon. You can find out more about the film by checking out the Prevalent Films website. The DVD’s special features include a photo gallery, cast interviews, a music recording session and the film’s trailer.