Spent

Herbert Schumacher (Nick Nerangis) hasn't had an easy time of things these last few months. He's been in the hospital in his small town, dying of a fast-growing brain tumor, while his son Lonnie (Darren Barzegar) and wife Evelyn (Connie Lamothe) wait anxiously for the worst to happen. The anxiety perhaps isn't for the reason you think -- Herbert is a notorious miser who's always forced his family to live as cheaply as possible, so they're not entirely upset at the prospect of life without him.

Evelyn has found new love with Gregory (Tony Villa), owner of a local vintage clothing shop called Phlopsey's. Don't blame him; his mother named the place. Meanwhile, hoping to open his own business, Lonnie quits his job at the movie theatre working for the curmudgeonly Mr. Carmichael (Clem Richard). Lonnie also has plans to buy a sleek vintage sports car he's had his eye on for months, while beautiful salesperson Margot (Madeline Mikitarian) alternately flirts with him and insults him because he's taking so long to make up his mind. She's like that with everyone, in true femme fatale fashion.

Then the Schumachers get disastrous news: Herbert is going to live. It's a Fourth of July miracle -- after all, why should Christmas get all the miracles? -- but now Lonnie and Evelyn's plans are ruined just because one person wouldn't die according to schedule. It still isn't too late, though. The two of them just might have to take matters into their own hands now, that's all, so they can finally realize the dreams that are so close to being within their grasp.

The film is a charming mix of modern-day and 1940's and 50's styles, filmed in both color and black and white to reflect the changing fortunes of Evelyn and Lonnie. And there's a great, darkly humorous scene in a drugstore that echoes a scene from 1944's Double Indemnity -- also about a wife who feels shackled to a husband who doesn't appreciate her. The script, by writer-director Lisa Mikitarian, shines as the various storylines collide and weave together realistically, with Lonnie in particular suffering convincing pangs of conscience over his father's fate. Even the supporting cast comes to life, and there's often something eye-catching or funny going on in the background, the kind of small touches that make any film stand out.

I'll give it four and a quarter out of five. Some of the performances are a little stilted but the main players are all solid, and while the humor inevitably gets dark at times it's never depressing and the ending is both poignant and hopeful. It's a wonderful homage to classic black and white films that never feels old.

Image: 
The family that's forced to use one small bathroom together, stays together.

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