'For the Plasma': Film Review

For the Plasma Still H 2016
Cochin Moon Productions
A brainy put-on that dares viewers to call BS.

Two young women perform strange analyses in the Maine woods.

A shaggy-dog mystery whose artfully artless approach suggests deeper meanings than may actually be contained within, Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan's debut For the Plasma places two recent college grads in an isolated Maine cabin and watches them predict fluctuations in stock prices by staring deeply at the trees.

Or something like that. Not as committed to its spacey perceptuo-metaphysical premise as it seems at the start, the film seems more interested in whether one woman can convince another to buy into a project she doesn't understand. Though its personal dynamics are only loosely constrained by realism (blow-out fights erupt from nowhere and are forgotten immediately), the interplay between actresses in this bucolic setting should suffice to win some admirers in a niche art house run.

If anyone on camera here has had training as an actor, Bryant and Molzan have evidently asked them to forget it, in scenes that are directed and edited with an eye toward unlikely pauses in conversation. (In one scene, an old-timer responsible for a lighthouse appears to be reading from cue cards.) But Anabelle LeMieux (Charlie) and Rosalie Lowe (Helen) are certainly credible as products of a liberal-arts school ready to make earnest attempts to grasp a former classmate's esoteric theory.

Helen has lived in this house for a while, initially monitoring the woods for signs of fires. After long weeks of staring at video feeds, she felt her "sense of scale would change" in ways she thought could give her insight into other phenomena. She's now making lots of money feeding info to stock traders, somehow, and has hired newcomer Charlie to augment her perceptions with observations in the field.

Charlie gets a lot of free time to read, lounge in the sun and sneak off for phone calls with a third person both women knew at school. (We hear just her side of the calls, each of which seems to involve at least one non-sequitur like "slippery as an eel.") Shot on 16mm, these lazy moments are the film's most pleasurable, a respite from trying to figure out questions we start to suspect have no answers.

Distributor: Factory 25
Production company: Cochin Moon
Cast: Anabelle LeMieux, Rosalie Lowe, Tom Lloyd, Han-shik Liu, Ryohei Hoshi
Directors-editors: Bingham Bryant, Kyle Molzan
Producer-screenwriter: Bingham Bryant
Executive producers: Andrew Adair, Tyler Brodie, Jake Perlin, Kate West
Director of photography: Chris Messina
: Keiichi Suzuki

Not rated, 93 minutes