Directed by: #PatrickConnolly
Written by: #PatrickConnolly
If somebody flicked on the TV and found themselves halfway through Desire Lines (directed by Patrick Connolly), they would be forgiven for thinking that they had instead just stumbled across Terrence Malick’s latest movie. The shaky handheld camerawork, the bountiful philosophy, it all feels so familiar. Luckily Connolly chooses to employ a sense of humour and it is this, the film’s acute self-awareness, that saves it from being undone by a feeling of indulgence. That isn’t a dig at Malick either, he’s probably the only person who can get away with making the films he makes, and all the while not just get away with it, but in fact produce masterful works of art (in my opinion at least). Connolly, perhaps wisely, steers clear of this territory.
Desire Lines certainly grapples with some big questions, with Honey Zeal (Camille Calvin), probably the film’s central character, conflicted about the direction in which her life is headed. She attends a meditation group somewhere in LA, on the advice of a potential new business partner, who encourages her to find some peace of mind and maybe get to the bottom of her troubles. We are soon introduced to the other members of the group and gain some insight into their lives and personalities via a serious of flashbacks and voice-over. It isn’t pretty.
Each character seems fundamentally flawed in some way or the other, and they (mostly) try to hide it. Keith Gordon (Dwight Huntsman) is probably the most engaging supporting character; he’s a veteran solider who served in Afghanistan, loves (exclusively) his cat Chi Chi, and spends his life suppressing irrational urges to sock other people in the face (including friends and family members). Incredibly dark humour, it is equal parts amusing and harrowing, with Connolly and Huntsman working well to tread that line in a convincing manner. It all makes for an interesting watch and is also reassuring to an extent. We’re seeing somebody else struggling to get their life in order and putting on a brave face whilst doing so. Though it isn’t nice to see that happen (even to a fictional character), it may help to know we’re not the only ones.
As good as Huntsman’s performance is, however, he doesn’t quite steal the show from Calvin. Her portrayal of Honey is measured to perfection, blending the character’s humour and steel to great effect. Quite simply put, Honey feels authentic, not a cliché but like a real person (and one you wouldn’t want to mess with at that). The performances in general are very good, with Jonathan Dylan King and Nigel J. Lysaght (as Trevor Bloomquist and Joel Caldwell respectively) both effective. They somehow manage to perfectly embody repulsiveness in two vastly different manners: Trevor is crass whilst Joel is sinister. The performances all feel quite natural and this may be a reflection of the extensive rehearsals undertaken, as well as the relaxed approach to filming that was employed.
The film offers an interesting insight into the ways in which people can deploy walls so as to keep people at a distance. This can be for a number of reasons, the film suggests, and it is a fact that links together each of the characters involved in the meditation group. The film manages to balance some profundity with good humour (see the Breakfast Club reference), which ensures it's a breeze to watch at just under ninety minutes. Just like Malick, Connolly is able to use the medium to make a profound point about life, which is all the more impressive given that it’s his first full-length feature.
See trailer below: