Pincus: LAFF Review

Pincus Film Still - H 2012

Pincus Film Still - H 2012

No-budget indie feature has little more going for it than its sad-sack protagonist. 

Sufficiently mundane to assure ongoing obscurity beyond the film festival circuit, writer-director David Fenster’s second feature might have a shot finding an audience online if it can manage to build a viral following, unlikely for such a low-key drama.goin

Now in his 30s, semi-employed Pincus Finster (David Nordstrom) lives at home in Miami so he can care for his dad (Paul Fenster), a mid-stage Parkinson’s patient suffering from dementia. He’s barely making an effort to keep the family construction business going while he tries to figure out what to do with his life. Meanwhile he wastes his time hanging out, drinking beer and smoking pot with his middle-aged friend Dietmar (Dietmar Franosch), an illegal immigrant and former employee of his dad’s.

After he begins taking yoga classes led by Anna (Christi Idavoy), Pincus feigns interest in New Age theories and alternative therapies to persuade her to spend more time with him under the guise of helping out his dad. When Dietmar, who’s something of an amateur mystic, goes missing, Pincus recruits Anna to help track him down with the aid of a local psychic. When their budding relationship begins to head south due to his deceptions and romantic ineptitude, Pincus is forced to make some tough decisions about his future.

Despite assuming nearly all the creative roles, Fenster doesn’t seem to be trying much harder than his alter-ego, Pincus. With details drawn from his personal life, Fenster’s script amounts to little more than a sketch, the film’s verite camerawork rarely rises above perfunctory and editing is strictly functional. Although there’s plenty of potential conflict to mine in Pincus’ struggle to deal with his father’s situation, Fenster squanders his opportunities on banal situations, uninspired dialogue and predominantly nonprofessional actors.

Nordstrom, who directed and co-starred in the finely wrought indie feature Sawdust City that played LAFF last year, seems mostly adrift here with so little material to work with. Other performances barely make an impression, although Fenster’s father Paul gives a brave and funny turn as Pincus’ dad, an actual Parkinson’s patient.

With stakes so low, it’s no wonder Pincus remains fitfully motivated, making it hard to care any more than he does about the outcome of his flailings.

Venue: Los Angeles Film Festival
Production company: Field Office Films
Cast: David Nordstrom, Paul Fenster, Christi Idavoy, Dietmar Franosch
Director/screenwriter: David Fenster
Producer: David Fenster
Executive producer: Phil Lord
Director of photography: David Fenster
Editor: David Fenster
Music: John Clement Wood
No rating, 78 minutes