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Big Significant Things: SXSW Review

The Bottom Line

Slow-build tactics work well for psychological character sketch.

Venue

South By Southwest Film Festival, Narrative Competition

Cast

Harry Lloyd, Krista Kosonen, Sylvia Grace Crim, James Ricker II, Travis Koop, Peter Cameron, Elisabeth Gray, Glenn Hollis

Director-Screenwriter

Bryan Reisberg

Harry Lloyd plays a young man on the run from big decisions.

AUSTIN — An oblique look at a man trying to hold big life decisions at bay, Bryan Reisberg's Big Significant Things sets Harry Lloyd off on a Southern road trip whose ostensible purpose is to visit all the "world's largest" tourist-trap novelties he can find. A good-looking debut offering more atmosphere than action, it will resonate personally with some young viewers on the fest circuit and has modest prospects beyond.

Lloyd's Craig seems at first to be a whitebread, guileless tourist enamored of gee-whiz monuments: Asking a stranger to take his photo beside the "World's Largest Cedar Bucket," he then lingers uncomfortably, as if expecting his nonplussed new friend to share in his amazement. (The kid clearly does not.) But when he phones home to girlfriend Allison, his talk of a busy day at work proves there's something happening behind that good-guy face: Craig's on a weeklong vacation from life, pretending he's still working while Allison scouts for places to live in San Francisco, where they're moving together.

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Once we hear her father in the background of a call, adding an unwelcome two cents on the topic of real estate purchases, we understand part of Craig's hesitation. But that's about as explicit as the film gets, instead choosing to observe the little ways the man tries to fit into rural towns where he doesn't belong.

When Craig meets a Finnish girl, Ella (Krista Kosonen), in a bar, the movie suddenly seems to point somewhere. But Reisberg's script is less predictable than that: Whatever threat this newcomer poses to his relationship will manifest itself slowly, in between long nighttime drives and boozy parties in strangers' homes. Reisberg and DP Luca Del Puppo capture the feeling of being adrift in a place and a social circle that's not one's own, while using totems from Craig's past (one of those man-made landmarks; an overnight radio call-in show) to keep him tethered to a future he has more-than-halfway agreed to already. Lloyd's performance invites us in just enough to keep us from judging the character without allowing us to identify with him fully. It isn't clear, after all, that Craig has a sense of identity that even he can identify with.

Production Companies: Uncorked Productions, Heretic Films

Cast: Harry Lloyd, Krista Kosonen, Sylvia Grace Crim, James Ricker II, Travis Koop, Peter Cameron, Elisabeth Gray, Glenn Hollis

Director-Screenwriter: Bryan Reisberg

Producers: Andrew D. Corkin, Daniel-Konrad Cooper

Executive producers: Burton Ritchie, Harry Lloyd

Director of photography: Luca Del Puppo

Production designer: Shawn D. Bronson

Music: Mark Orton

Costume designer: Virginia Schreiber

Editor: Dean C. Marcial

No rating, 83 minutes