Present Company

Present Company
Editor’s Note: I’ve decided to begin posting my reviews of films screening at SXSW early, hopefully helping anyone attending make some decisions about what to see. Present Company is screening on Monday March 10 at 5:00pm and Wednesday March 12 at 9:00pm. All screenings are at the Dobie.

Present Company (2008, Director: Frank V. Ross): I’ve only recently become aware of the work of Frank V. Ross. His previous features Hohokam (2007) and Quietly On By (2005) have generated some buzz and placed him peripherally among the group of filmmakers now desperately trying to shed the “mumblecore” label. The main difference between Ross and those other filmmakers is that his protagonists are often less educated and live in the rural suburbs rather than in urban settings. Unlike his previous films, in Present Company, he plays the protagonist himself. Buddy is a young father living with his girlfriend Christy (Tamara Fana) and their baby Mikey in the basement of Christy’s parents’ house. It’s clear that they’re only together because of Mikey, and that they’re both interested in moving on. Though their actual ages are not mentioned, both of them act like spoiled teenagers for most of the film, and it was quite easy to grow tired of Buddy’s bullying of Christy and even his friends. He pursues a new relationship without telling Christy, and when the new girl finds out about his domestic situation, she isn’t happy, either.

Though I couldn’t really relate much to these characters, I found the depiction realistic to the point of near-documentary, and I think that will make the film stick with me. There is a final scene where Buddy makes a rather obvious grasp toward maturity, but I can’t decide if I feel it meant anything. In the end, there’s very little going on between the characters, and I found it a bit wearing to be in the presence of such self-absorbed dysfunctional people for so long. That being said, Frank V. Ross has made a film of real authenticity. I just wish there were a little more hope.

Karina Longworth places the earlier films of Frank V. Ross into context with the other “m-word” films (and much more eloquently than I ever could).


This entry was posted in Film Festivals, SXSW and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.