Directed by: Joe Taylor, Joe Hackett, Chris Gehrt
Written by: Joe Taylor, Joe Hackett, Chris Gehrt, Jessica Greer, Tatum Shank
Indie Film 818 chronicles the lives and stories of a group of individuals living in different neighbourhoods within the 818 area code of Los Angeles, all of whom are seemingly disconnected but find themselves slowly but surely brought together through a series of unique events.
There is Mike Bucket, a producer on a terrible television show stuck in a loveless marriage with a wife who hates his last name. Joe, who works as a therapist, seeing several patients (including Mike and his wife Amy) and has become completely cynical of the exploitative talent industry that surrounds Los Angeles. Olive works several day jobs and then demeans herself as an escort at night just to make ends meet. Paul is a very talented writer but is stuck writing inane articles for a blog just fishing for advertising money. And finally, Thorne and Jones, who are ex-zookeepers trying their hand at being private investigators (poorly) in order to support their families.
There really is a lot to like about this film, which is an impressive collaborative effort from a core group who not only act, but also have hands in the writing, production and directing of this film.
The script for the most part weaves a great tapestry throughout of humour (although never hilarious) tinged with sadness as the worlds of these characters begin to intertwine.
The film is also very well paced, giving each person and their individual story room to develop before drawing them all together and moving up the gears before the films climax.
The dialogue can admittedly be a little bland at times in both writing and delivery and some of the cast are definitely more guilty of this than others, however overall this is a good ensemble who breathe life into each of their characters. This is where the films strength lies, and it is full of very flawed but well-rounded, believable and interesting people. You might not like all of them at the start or possibly not even at the end, but you do find yourself able to relate on some level to each of these individuals. Thorne and Jones will probably be the ones you root for as the well meaning duo that are just trying to do what is best for their family despite their ineptitude, whereas Mike’s animosity towards his wife colours him all shades of asshole, but ultimately you understand it comes from a place of pain.
Like many other films have done before it, 818 looks behind the glossy face of Los Angeles where everyone is trying to make it and be somebody and exposes its dirtier side.
Often sad and even more often funny, 818 is a cynical and satirical look at the mythos behind the City of Angels and the American Dream as a whole and a great indie gem.