Generally speaking, independent film and high drama are two things that mix together about as well as peanut butter and bleach. Although I won’t go out of my way and say that Stained Glass Windows is the exception that proves the rule, it most certainly proves to be a stonger effort. Director William L. Brown delivers a film that throws a great deal of variables at the audience but does not necessarily pick one singular narrative function to continue on with. Although this facet of the film has its own set of positives and negatives, it at least makes it an engaging watch from start to finish. Taking the viewer on a trip through the high school experience from the vantage point of the outsider, discussing race relations, taking on the topic of homosexuality, the expungement of negative feelings through martial arts and even dealing with physical abuse towards women; to say Stained Glass Windows has a lot on its plate would be an understatement. With a laundry list of dramatic devices, the film often feels hindered because of this but over all it delivers a strange vibe that works on a certain level.
Cherry (Emelie O’Hara) is your average alienated teenager dealing with her own unique set of issues. Her boyfriend is an abusive jerk who she puts in jail, after some intervention from the neighbors who call the law when they hear one of their fights. With her psychotic boyfriend in jail, Cherry has to move on in her life with a freshly minted scar now adorning her cheek. Cherry has already had a troubled time dealing with her peers in school, but with this new scar things become almost unbearable. However Cherry’s situation catches the attention of her neighbor, a former friend who abandoned Cherry due to diverging social cliques. This pairing of cheerleader and goth makes for a true odd couple, but the two find something between themselves that has been dormant for many years. Could this be love? How will Cherry deal with the social taboo of loving another girl, and what about her psychotic ex-boyfriend who may end up being released early?
As if I haven’t made it abundantly clear at this point, I think if there’s an issue I found with Stained Glass Windows it comes from the overly complicated script which at times comes off as feeling a bit convoluted. It almost becomes episodic in its nature as we see Cherry deal with issue after issue, with one sequence ending and opening the doors for the next hurdle she has to deal with. Despite this fact or perhaps because of it, the movie has certainly seared its place within my memory. From a technical standpoint, it is actually quite impressive. The lighting and visual appeal of the movie is great. I’m a sucker for interesting lighting and color schemes, which the film deals in quite a bit. At times the budgetary means become apparent, especially due to a few of the sets, but the filmmakers did a good job in keeping the visual quality at their very best. Continuing with the quality of technical merits, I will say that all of the performances in the film are thoroughly enjoyable. Emelie O’Hara who plays Cherry, who is quite beautiful I must say, delivers an impressive performance. She plays the part splendidly, by not simply being a archetype of what one would expect from the ‘goth’ character and overall she shows some dazzling talent.
Stained Glass Windows had its issues, but generally I found the film to be engaging. Director William L. Brown shows promise and the cast take to the intense drama of the film and show restraint in not falling into the traps of over-acting. I’ll certainly keep my eyes peeled out for the filmmakers and can’t wait to see more from them! You can read more about the project via the official Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/SGWMovie