The Lengths (2014) – By Kirsten Walsh

A guy, pining for the girl that would never be his. A friend, pining for nirvana and a “chill” life. A girl, pining for a dream that seems further and further away. A van, pushing this trio into the future of a bad choice. With this haphazard group, “The Lengths” is more than just a film of a journey, it is a film of discovery, a film of pain, and a film of nostalgia clinging to regret. Sounds depressing, right? It is definitely not that! Directed by Floridian Tim Driscoll in his feature film debut, this film has one thing that will keep the audience’s eyes on the screen and their bums in their seats- heart.

Tim Driscoll’s background seems to have been centered in comedy, with his writing partner Joel Russo and a team of friends having competed in the 48 hour film festival for a handful of years, and produce a variety of shorts. With “The Lengths” being a semi straight forward drama (which is an understatement of the emotional rollercoaster the audience goes through), in Tim’s hands it seems to fit. With the character of Charlie (played by a hilarious Joshua Mikel) the film borders on being a throwback to films like the Jack Black hit “Orange County” (2002). There are many aspects that set this film apart from most indie films out there, but the obvious one is the acting. Between Charlie, Tom (played by Driscoll’s own brother Cory), and Hanna (Corsica Wilson), they pull the audience in to their tear jerking stories and sit next to them on the journey across the country. Their characters are so vastly different from one another with so much going on internally that they are truly well rounded. They are so remarkable that they stick with you after viewing the film, and you drive past a seedy hotel and expect to see Charlie running in his underwear!

The story centers on Tom making an impulsive decision to chase after his ex girlfriend, who has invited him to her wedding with a special note scrawled on the invitation. A friend to the end, Charlie agrees to escort him in his shoddy make shift “Mystery Machine” styled van. Travelling from Florida to California, they end up in seedy motels and picking up a girl who cannot believably be a hitchhiker. Two guys and one girl in van equals nothing but trouble as they rival for her attention, all while Tom keeps his ex on his mind. Throughout the film, as secrets are told and tensions rise, there is a very uncomfortable motion that rides through with the hitchhiker, Hanna, choosing to show her affections to Tom more so than Charlie. While it plays excellent on screen, it seems silly that two friends who have obviously been through way more than that are fighting over a hitch hiking, crazy (as Charlie puts it) girl. It detracts from the main storyline with a pleasant sense of chaos as the three voyage on trapped in the van.

The sound is excellent, which makes it even easier to fall into the film. Ambiance sounds that are placed, such as birds cawing while we’re in the van seem a slight out of place, but a terrific soundtrack quickly pulls the attention. The music gives the feel of a “hipster film”, which is appearing to be coming up as a genre of its own in the modern times. With the somewhat de-saturated color tone, the lackluster but thought out attire the characters wear, the language.
The film has an air of many coming of age films, with a fresh, real sense of life in it. In the same way that “SLC Punk” (1998) and “Some Kind of Wonderful” (1987) exist with a keen sense of the time and the youth, so does “The Lengths”. The acting is hip, the music is indie, the lighting and cinematography are on point, and this film works.

All in all, the film carries a beautiful story to the next level. There is no doubt that this film will see success, whether it moves through the festival circuit or other routes. It definitely won’t be long until we see another project from Tim Driscoll and Joel Russo again.

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