Go Get Some Rosemary -- Film Review

Benjamin Walker
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Actor Benjamin Walker attends the "Bloody Bloody Jackson" opening night after party at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

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CANNES -- Josh and Benny Safdie return to the Directors' Fortnight (the former brother was here in 2008 with "The Pleasure of Being Robbed," the latter with a short) with their first feature together, the intimate "Go Get Some Rosemary." Never falsely sentimental (it may even be a tad too detached at times), the film should get good play on the independent circuit and continued interest in the duo's future work.

An end dedication gives the impression that "Rosemary" is autobiographical, but whether or not this is true is secondary to it's convincing depiction of a thirtysomething New York slacker juggling a two-week custody visit with his sons, his frustrated girlfriend and a precarious job.

Coming across as charismatic and unstable from the opening sequence, Lenny (Ronald Bronstein) is a delight to his young sons Sage, 9, and Frey, 7 (played by real-life brothers Sage and Frey Ranaldo). However, his chronic irresponsibility ensures that there will be screw-ups, from not picking them up at school on time to a grave and immature misjudgment of potentially fatal proportions.

Technically, "Rosemary" treads common ground in its Dogma-tic approach but ultimately to good effect. The light is entirely natural and the music that comes only from what is being played in a few scenes -- except for in the more lyrical ending. It goes without saying then that the camera is hand-held and the look grainy. That works in rendering the grittiness of Lenny's midtown studio and adding to the intimacy between the boys and their father, a slightly older child than themselves.

The editing is often as jumpy as Lenny's frenetic brain and, thankfully, the filmmakers feel little need to be overly linear or explanatory in unfolding their story. Yet they are at times overly indulgent in driving home Lenny's volatility and risk losing audiences' affection for the character halfway through.

The film's title is explained at the very end of the film and is all the more poignant when it arrives. It even justifies the aforementioned repetition, to depict a man incapable of not pushing the limits of self-destruction. And two children forced to grow up well before their time.

"Go Get Some Rosemary" may not be wholly successful but it is a very good attempt, thanks especially to the script and acting. Bronstein's performance is an understated discovery and the Ranaldo brothers are perfectly natural. A cameo by Abel Ferrara is appropriately amusing and creepy.

Festival de Cannes -- Directors' Fortnight

Sales: Films Boutique
Production companies: Neistat Scott & Associates, Redbucket Films

Cast: Ronald Bronstein, Sage Ranaldo, Frey Ranaldo, Eleonore Hendricks, Salvatore Sansone, Abel Ferrara, Dakota Goldhor, Leah Singer
Director-screenwriters: Josh and Benny Safdie
Producers: Casey Neistat, Tom Scott
Directors of photography: Brett Jutkiewicz, Josh Safdie
Production designer: Sam Lisenco
Music: David Sandholm & The Beets
Costume designers: Josh and Benny Safdie
Editor: Josh and Benny Safdie, Jutkiewicz
No rating, 100 minutes