Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Wait: the Psychic Said What?

At least the psychic never asks for money.  Maybe that is why Emma believes her. It must be admitted her timing is also spot-on, given she calls unsolicited immediately after the death of Emma’s mother. Much to her sister’s frustration, Emma insists it will only be a matter of time before their mother returns to the land of the living, because a stranger told her so in M. Blash’s supernatural-ish drama The Wait (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Presumably, Angela is the more responsible sister since she does all the things you are supposed to do when a family member dies.  Her older sister is clearly a flake, yet everyone seems to defer to her.  Instead of grieving, the family just ambles about in a daze, with the air conditioning cranked up to arctic levels. Angela recognizes cracked behavior when she sees it, but her flirtation with a scruffy hipster neighbor distracts her from pushing the issue.

Blash plays up the verdant eeriness of the Pacific Northwest woods for all its worth, simulating the vibe of Twin Peaks, but lacking the distinctive characters and stuff happening with regularity.  Kasper Tuxen’s lush cinematography evokes a sense something uncanny must be going on somewhere, but there are simply too many shots of characters staring off into the distance for Wait to sustain any appreciable momentum.

After Tuxen, Jena Malone is probably the film’s MVP. As Angela, she actually supplies a real performance, marked by vulnerability and sensuality.  In contrast, Chloë Sevigny’s Emma largely fades into the background, which is surprisingly given the lively impression she made in Jonathan Caouette’s even more surreal short, All Flowers in Time.

With respects to the natural versus the supernatural question, Wait seems to want to have its cake and eat it too. Blash offers up sequences to support either alternative down the stretch, but they are all so frustratingly underwhelming. There are interesting bits here and there, like the forest fire raging on the horizon, which everyone assiduously ignores, like revelers in Pompeii. Yes, it is a carefully crafted film, but there will be times viewers will want to hook it up to a car battery and give it a jump. For dedicated Malone fans only, The Wait opens this Friday (1/31) in New York at the Cinema Village.