'Something, Anything': Film Review

Something, Anything Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Self-Reliant Film

Something, Anything Still - H 2015

Film about spiritual search echoes its protagonist's numbed reticence

A suburban consumerist reevaluates life after her miscarriage

Trying to find some path through life that is neither blind consumerism nor a complete rejection of worldliness, Paul Harrill's Something, Anything follows a young woman shattered by a miscarriage. Sympathetic to this newlywed whose friends and husband are uncomprehending, the film is on her side without attempting to explicate her emotional responses. The result is an indie whose reticence can look like inertness, limiting its theatrical appeal; in niche bookings and on video, though, it should connect with spiritual seekers who share its meditative bent.

Ashley Shelton plays Peggy, a Tennessee suburbanite eagerly jumping on the engagement ring/bridal registry/nursery decoration train with boyfriend Mark (Bryce Johnson). She begins to feel like an accessory to Mark's life early in her pregnancy, though, and is devastated when he isn't there for her when she realizes she's losing their child.

Peggy's post-miscarriage depression goes on longer than Mark and her friends can endure, and the couple separates. Tellingly, Peggy's supportive parents try to buy a solution, offering to pay for a trip to Europe. She goes another direction, trading her realty job for one as a library assistant and donating most of her possessions to charity. Peggy becomes Margaret, and takes new interest in the Bible — not by becoming a churchgoer, but by photocopying Jesus's sermons and poring over them like a college freshman discovering literature for the first time.

Apart from a few lines we read in her journal, our main hint at what's going on in Margaret's head is the interest she shows in a condolence card from Tim (Linds Edwards), an introverted high school acquaintance who has since become a monk. She's gravitating toward him, but is it to emulate his lifestyle or explore a sublimated romantic interest?

Harrill's script is sufficiently blank-faced to accommodate both readings, and Shelton follows suit. While the supporting cast is uneven, she and her male costars suitably embody the filmmaker's viewpoint, with Johnson's career-track Matt given only barely enough humanity to avoid charges of caricature. The plot reversals of the third act happen rather abruptly, perhaps unbelievably, in comparison to what precedes them. But those who've been in Margaret's shoes may find this appropriate — an honest acknowledgement of the false starts that can result when a newly hatched idealist tries to apply abstract principles to messy human emotions.

Production company: Nest Features

Cast: Ashley Shelton, Bryce Johnson, Linds Edwards 

Director-Screenwriter: Paul Harrill

Producers: Ashley Maynor

Executive producers: Dee Bagwell Haslam, Ross Bagwell, Sr.

Director of photography: Kunitaro Ohi

Editor: Jennifer Lilly

Music: Eric V. Hachikian

No rating, 89 minutes