Loves Her Gun: Film Review

Meandering film is at odds with its subject's psychological tension.

Trieste Kelly Dunn plays a traumatized New Yorker seeking refuge in laid-back Austin.

When you're fleeing problems that exist largely in your head, it hardly matters if you're in post-industrial Brooklyn or the funky heart of Texas -- so says Geoff Marslett's Loves Her Gun, a cross-country character study that touches on hot-button gun-rights issues without drawing conclusions beyond its own scenario's borders. Slender in plot and less psychologically probing than it probably intends to be, the improv-heavy production will have a tough time drawing attention outside hipster enclaves but is more coherent than Marslett’s 2010 debut, the goofy sci-fi animation Mars.

Trieste Kelly Dunn plays Allie, a New Yorker who chances upon a gig by a touring novelty-rock band from Texas and befriends the musicians, especially quiet, mustachioed Clark (Francisco Barreiro). Walking home after a fight with her insufferable boyfriend, she's brutally mugged by an unlikely band of masked, business suit-wearing assailants. Suddenly needing a change of scenery, she decides to hitch a ride southwest with the band.

After an idyllic road trip in which she and Clark seem about to pair up romantically, Allie settles into an uncertain couch-surfing routine in Austin. She winds up living in Clark's house without sharing his bed, leaving the lovestruck young man frustrated and sad. Seeking some kind of self-determination, she starts working for a landscaper named Sarah (Melissa Hideko Bisagni), who eventually suggests Allie might ease her lingering fear of attack by getting a gun.

Sarah, one presumes, has never heard of post-traumatic stress disorder, and has a hard time imagining events the viewer finds fairly easy to predict, like Allie's over-reliance on her firearm and her need to use the new tool against threats both real and imagined. But this scary vector is diluted by the film's shambling nature. The dialogue is improvised, and its structure often appears to be as well, with scenes that meander enough they're sure to draw Slacker jokes from observers who don't understand Richard Linklater's intricately composed breakthrough film.

Production Company: Swerve Pictures
Cast: Trieste Kelly Dunn, Francisco Barreiro, Ashley Rae Spillers, Geoff Marslett, Melissa Hideko Bisagni
Director: Geoff Marslett
Screenwriters: Lauren Modery, Geoff Marslett, Geoff Lerer
Producers: Geoff Marslett, Robert Howell, Melissa Dalley, Lauren Modery, Geoff Lerer
Executive producers: Swerve Pictures, Wordmark Systems
Director of photography: Amy Bench
Production designer: Javier Bonafont
Music: Hanan Townshend
Editor: Ian Holden
No rating, 99 minutes

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