Directed by Terry Ross
Written by Lisa Bruhn
Starring Tyler Bruhn, Karenssa LeGear, Sandi Todorovic, Aaron Landon Bornstein, Lisa Winans
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Genuinely moving, indie film Carving a Life, from director Terry Ross and writer Lisa Bruhn, lays bare its two central characters as they journey from initial courting through to marriage and beyond. A no-holds-bar examination of the splinters which can occur when you let the anguish of your memories affect the promise of your future.
Tyler Bruhn plays Mitch, a seemingly confident wood-carving artist at the beginning of the movie, the audience later learns that he hides a troubled past. His new relationship with school teacher Lauren (Karenssa LeGear) begins well, and the two enjoy the initial throes of puppy love and eventually get married. What becomes evident, through Mitch’s drinking, turbulent flashbacks, and poor choices, is that the baggage he has brought with him to this relationship is perhaps more than either of them bargained for.
What first appears to be a rather middle-of-the-road love story is actually layered with some fascinating themes surrounding alcohol abuse and mental/physical health issues. Mitch’s struggle to come to terms with aspects of his past and the incredibly poor choices he continues to make, are wonderful ruinous but also very relatable. Everything is done with a convincing tone and his behaviour does not smack of shallow totes emoshing, instead of a manchild weighed down by his tragic history. His relationships with his father (Aaron Landon Bornstein) and friend-cum-enabler Eric (Sandi Todorovic) are also well explored during Carving a Life.
Music was chosen well to add depth to the film’s chapters, the entire movie felt like a journey through time as the seasons changed and each of the characters had moved to a slightly different, and often more unstable, place in their life. It was compelling to watch the evolution of Mitch and Lauren’s relationship and how they attempted to merge all of their anxieties and fears with disastrous consequences. There is a moment early on in the film where Mitch talks about using damaged wood in order to create something beautiful, which becomes particularly poignant later on in Carving a Life. Another little reference to this is found when Lauren refers to her new class, saying there are no “bad eggs”.
The performances were by and large decent. Bruhn and LeGear have a nice chemistry, and there is a really nice sequence between LeGear and Mitch’s step-mother Rebecca (Lisa Winans) where she reveals some of the details of Mitch’s past. At times, there are some moments of stilted dialogue, but these are few and far between. Overall this was a tender and engaging romantic drama that combined emotive storytelling with fantastic thematic depth.
Watch the official movie trailer for Carving a Life below...