Photo | Eight East Productions
In the early years of Lagniappe, my esteemed colleague and fearless Leader Ashley Trice wrote some film review columns, the premise of which was that the films she chose to watch were “one-boxers.” Which, for you kids, means that, way back almost 20 years ago, when we drove our Fred Flintstone, foot-powered cars to Blockbuster to physically rent a movie, they were quirky random little flicks with just one copy on the shelf.
It was a great way to search out some hidden gems. It was also a great way to find our number one indie movie boyfriend, sensitive man candy and future Hulk, Mark Ruffalo, but I digress.
“Evergreen” is a one-boxer. I hadn’t heard of it, but it looked promising, with a line of ghostly oval film festival logos across the title. It proved to be an interesting, emotional digression, especially after weeks of action flicks. This was an inaction flick. A young man named Ben (Scott Keiji Takeda) is making a road trip to see his sister and attend a birthday party, and he is giving a ride to a girl, Sam (Hannah Leigh) who is also attending the party. The party hostess is hoping her mutual friends will hit it off on their day-long drive, and from the moment they both agree on the scenic-but-less-efficient Pacific Coast Highway as their route, they discover they have a lot in common.
You might not be surprised to learn that they do hit it off and that the car these earnest youngsters drive is a Subaru. As they stand with their arms outstretched on cliffs, or sip a bottle of beer on a beach, well, of course they have fun, and it’s more fun than whatever real life looks like for them normally. We don’t get much about their lives outside of their road trip, except that Sam has recently lost her mother. They certainly aren’t in much of a hurry to get anywhere. After the birthday party, they decide to hang out a bit longer and just keep driving.
If “Evergreen” was better, you would have “Before Sunset,” since both are really just a series of meandering conversations when two people get to know each other during a limited amount of time. It is about everything, and nothing. “Evergreen” leans a bit heavier on the “nothing” side, but the two winsome leads made it worthwhile. Their performances were natural and they had believable, watchable chemistry together.
They pick up a hitchhiker and pretend to be other people for a while. The hitchhiker is pretty nice and nothing bad happens. Depending on how grown-up/embittered you are, you will either find the lovers a relatable pair searching for answers about love, or a couple of babbling goobers who clearly don’t have enough responsibilities. The fictional Sam and Ben may have found their lives forever changed by their brief-but-meaningful encounter, but “Evergreen” is unlikely to have that same effect on the viewer. The scenery is lovely though.
The few moments of seriousness in the form of Sam’s grieving over her late mother indicate to me that “Evergreen” could have been better with a dash more drama. There was plenty of room to have more plot and still be well within a movie concept that was really just reflective, conversational and emotional.
If you are of a sufficiently romantic mindset, or you just like looking at the California coastline, “Evergreen” is a sweet, simple journey, taking the scenic route through a young couple’s brief-but-meaningful romance. It might get you thinking about your own relationships, because some of the dialogue manages to be pretty interesting on the topic of what people owe each other, and the limits of commitment. The fact that the perspective on these questions is naïve and untested is pretty much the subject of the film, if there is one.
“Evergreen” is currently available to rent.
Gideon Kennedy, a local until recently, has been nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on the CNN documentary “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” The nomination is for “Outstanding Research: Documentary” for the 42nd News and Documentary Emmys. Kennedy served as the Archival Producer for the already celebrated documentary. From his short film about Richard Nixon’s short-but-eventful visit to Mobile in 1971 in “Dick-George, Tenn-Tom,” to the wild docu-comedy “Limo Ride,” Kennedy can boast such impressive credits as Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” and now an Emmy nomination.
New This Week
“The Suicide Squad” Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in country, is where the worst Super-Villains are kept and where they will do anything to get out — even join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X. Today’s do-or-die assignment? Assemble a collection of cons, including Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Savant (Michael Rooker), King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), Blackguard, Javelin and everyone’s favorite psycho, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie.) Then arm them heavily and drop them (literally) on a remote, enemy-infused island. Nexus Cinema Dining, All multiplex theaters.
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