Harmony and Me -- Film Review

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Bob Byington's "Harmony and Me" is a slow meander through the mostly stagnant life of a character hardly worth the bother.

This discordant person, implausibly named Harmony, mopes through life in ongoing heartbreak over a woman who left him ages before. It's a short movie at 72 minutes, but even by the halfway point we grow to appreciate the ex-girlfriend's wisdom in dumping this guy. Film festivals offer the only probable venue for witnessing Harmony's anguish.

The film comes out of the vibrant film and music community in the Austin area. Harmony stars Justin Rice of the indie rock group Bishop Allen. Fellow musicians play small roles. The film's writer-director Byington wrote several of the songs, and its producer, Kristen Tucker, stars as the woman for whom Harmony carries a torch.

In the process of a tissue-thin story, Harmony takes piano lessons and begins to compose songs -- the film's songs, as it were -- so perhaps the filmmakers mean to comment on how life's pain is music's gain.

In any event, Harmony tells everyone he meets the same sad story about his lost love, whose photo adorns a locket he wears around his neck. Harmony trudges through work -- he'll eventually get fired -- a bowling outing, a trip to an acupuncturist, his brother's wedding and uncomfortable get-togethers with his family.

No one even attempts to console Harmony. Indeed nearly every character blurts out unvarnished truths or inappropriate comments, which is the film's main source of humor. The women get the worst of this, though, as the film has a decidedly misogynistic tenor.

Shot on HD video, the movie from Forlorn Penguin Films is as awkward as its title character and lacks visual flair.
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