A Song Still Inside: Film Review
Seattle International Film Festival
Rodrigo Lopresti, Susan Highsmith, Hazel Sechler, Jayce Bartok, Jacqueline Knapp
Two new parents have a hard time with sacrifice in Gregory Collins's drama.
A convincing examination of new parenthood's effect on two people who aren't nearly ready to make the sacrifices raising a child demands, Gregory Collins's A Song Still Inside finds the scenario's difficulties compounded by the fact that both of the self-involved parents in question are actors. Their angst will resonate with many viewers, but few will want to identify with the way they handle it; prospects beyond the fest circuit are iffy.
Rodrigo Lopresti plays Mike, who has by default become a stay-at-home dad since wife Maggie (Susan Highsmith) is the one getting work. (She makes cheesy titillation videos that appear to be running online; it's hard to believe anyone could make enough from this work to live in Brooklyn.) Mike continues to hope for roles, but has gotten used to missing auditions because Maggie fails to come home in time to relieve him; her mother (Jacqueline Knapp), who'd like to babysit, is unreliable thanks to unspecified mental-health issues.
We watch as Mike struggles to juggle obligations, at one point even bringing his screaming child into an audition with him. Unsurprisingly, that gets him nowhere. On at least three occasions, he leaves the baby in a crib while he rushes off for a meeting -- setting a phone up in the room to serve as a hair-brained intercom with his cell phone. He's a desperate man behaving stupidly, but Lopresti's performance is strong: It may be impossible to really embrace a man who calls his infant son "bro," but Lopresti makes him watchable, with a core of sincere concern for the child. Maggie is tougher to accept, more blithe about her responsibilities and tone-deaf to her husband's feelings: After getting cast in a "real" movie, she excitedly tells him, "You have no idea how I'm feeling right now."
Mike tries his hand at screenwriting, and Maggie manages to support the effort while using her encouragement to demean what he's doing with his life. When an actor friend tells him to come out to L.A. for a couple of weeks to sell the script, she acts like his absence would be no problem; child-care will work itself out. By the time these conflicting impulses come to a head, many in the audience will be wishing those day-care needs were being met by Child Protective Services.
Cast: Rodrigo Lopresti, Susan Highsmith, Hazel Sechler, Jayce Bartok, Jacqueline Knapp
Director-Screenwriter: Gregory Collins
Producers: Patricia Beaury, Rodrigo Lopresti
Executive producer: Alicia Van Couvering
Director of photography: Eun-ah Lee
Production designer: Anastasia White
Costume designer: Lisa Padovani
Editor: Gregory Collins, Rodrigo Lopresti
No rating, 81 minutes