A Rubberband Is an Unlikely Instrument: Film Review

A Rubberband is an Unlikely Instrument Still - H 2013

A Rubberband is an Unlikely Instrument Still - H 2013

This overlong, self-indulgent documentary mainly succeeds in taxing the viewer's patience.

Matt Boyd's documentary concerns a bohemian Brooklyn couple coping with personal and financial pressures.

A Rubberband Is an Unlikely Instrument, and it also makes for less-than-compelling subject matter in Matt Boyd’s overlong and aimless documentary. This cinema verite-style portrait of a bohemian Brooklyn couple struggling to cope with familial and financial pressures is as self-indulgent as the painful sounding “music” that its central figure makes in the bowels of the New York City subway system.

Said music is produced by eccentric musician Walter Baker on a stretched-out giant rubberband that makes squealing noises that probably only sound bearable when compared to the screeching of the nearby subway cars. When he’s not playing underground, Baker also is an aspiring guitarist and composer, though apparently not a very successful one. He lives in a small apartment in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood with his poet/musician wife Andrea and their 12-year-old son Sidney.

Having hit middle age, the couple has become increasingly concerned with their financial future. Andrea in particular registers unhappiness and anxiety over their insecure lifestyle, which includes driving around the city looking for old furniture they can sell. Their increasingly contentious discussions fill much of the film’s running time, at least when the filmmaker isn’t concentrating on arty landscape shots that seem to go on forever.

Speaking of going on forever, that’s an apt description of this 135-minute opus, which strives for a meditative quality but instead proves simply monotonous. The film briefly springs to life in the scenes in which Walter visits his elderly parents in Texas. While the generational conflict between him and his no-nonsense, gun-loving father and gospel-singing (in a surprisingly sweet voice) mother is very much of the predictable sort, it at least provides a modicum of narrative momentum in the otherwise numbing proceedings.

Opens Friday, Dec. 8 (Factory 25)

Production: Found Pictures, Show Cobra Fils, Nomadic Independence Pictures

Director/director of photography: Matt Boyd

Producers: Matt Boyd, Ryan Zacarias, Brooke Bernard, Brent Stewart, Michael Carter

Executive producer: Jason Ross

Editors: Matt Boyd, Michael Carter

Composer: Walter Baker

Not rated, 135 min.