Son of a Seahorse (2010) – By Matt Barry

Son of a Seahorse is a comedy about Nick Kilpatrick, “a very angry man”, as the film’s tagline puts it, and follows it lead character through a series of frustrations about his efforts to find a job and to reconcile his relationship with his wife, played by Adrienne Patterson.

The filmmakers, Mary and Tom Russell, deliver an offbeat comedy that benefits from an engaging leading performance by David Schonscheck. Schonscheck is particularly good at moving from a kind of unnerving calm to outbursts of anger within seconds. From its interesting opening sequence (lasting 22 minutes), the film establishes itself as an independent, quirky comedy driven largely by dialogue. The opening sequence is an almost-surreal parody of the frustrations in dealing with customer service representatives over the phone, and establishes the relationship of the film’s main characters at the same time.

There are a couple of sequences that work particularly well, especially the scene with Nick’s eccentric brother-in-law (Peter Jurich delivers one of the film’s funniest performances), and the scene in which Nick loses his temper during a job interview. Schonscheck and Patterson play off of each other well, erupting into arguments at the slightest provocation, but displaying an odd chemistry with each other.

The film itself is shot largely with a handheld camera, giving it a very spontaneous feel that works well in a comedy like this. From a purely technical standpoint, I was intrigued by the Russells’ decision to let several scenes play out in one long, uninterrupted take, which is well-suited to dialogue-driven character comedy such as this. Unfortunately, there are some audio problems (although these may have been unique to the DVD copy I viewed) that occasionally render the dialogue inaudible.

Son of a Seahorse works as a quirky, off-beat indie comedy, sometimes raunchy but often good-natured. More information on the film is available through the official website: http://sonofaseahorse.blogspot.com