'Beach Town': Film Review

Beach Town Still - H 2015
Courtesy of SIFF

Beach Town Still - H 2015

A DIY romance too laid-back for its own good.

Seattle's a bad town for women who don't date musicians.

Vibe trumps all other concerns in Beach Town, Erik Hammen's (mostly) one-man-crew movie about (sorta) Bohemian romance on the Seattle shoreline. Aiming to tell a linear story with the kind of frozen-moment vibe epitomized by Richard Linklater's Slacker, the picture comes close in terms of local color but mostly fails to elicit our interest in the narrative. Beyond screenings in Seattle, whose Ballard-neighborhood locations are presented here in sun-bleached 16mm, it will be hard to attract many viewers to this one.

As thin as a Xeroxed gig poster left stapled for months to a telephone pole, the plot offers Noelle (Sarah Winsor), who immediately, upon moving to Ballard, develops a beach-blanket crush on Arthur (Ahren Buhmann). The two start an awkward flirtation — characters tend to wait too long to reply to each other here, as if they're not sure why someone is talking to them — that goes south when Noelle, who has had her fill of do-nothing boyfriends in bands, learns that Arthur is a musician.

During the long stretch in which these star-crossed lovers are kept apart, it's a rare viewer who will care if Noelle can find it in her heart to give guitar-slingers another chance. More of them will puzzle over the crude technique of director-writer-editor-DP-probably-caterer-and-tax-attorney-and-garbageman Hammen, who doesn't care much about matching shots or finding the charisma his actors might be hiding.

Read more 2015 Summer Movie Guide

Production company: Groton Bridge Films

Cast: Sarah Winsor, Ahren Buhmann, Riley Neldam, Kenna Ketterick, William Poole

Director-Screenwriter-Producer-Director of photography-Editor: Erik Hammen

No rating, 72 minutes