SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL REVIEWS – 3 BACKYARDS

| January 27, 2010

Director – Eric Mendelsohn
Screenwriter – Eric Mendelsohn
Cast – Embeth Davidtz, Edie Falco, Elias Koteas, Rachel Resheff, Kathryn Erbe, Danai Gurira
Composer – Michael Nicholas
Cinematographer – Kasper Tuxe
While there is no such thing as a typical Sundance film, occasionally a writer/director will come along full of his own self importance to make what he or she considers an artistically experimental film that somehow fits the Festival mould, without realising that a film needs an audience, a broad audience. Clearly Eric Mendelsohn, the writer/director of 3 Backyards, did not consider this, when making one of the most pointless, self-indulgent pieces of cinema to grace the Sundance screen in years.
The film’s narrative, such as it is, involves three adventures that take place on one Autumn day. In a complacent suburban neighborhood, an emotionally troubled businessman (Elias Koteas) wanders around his hometown while waiting for a delayed flight, a starstruck housewife (a nice turn by Edie Falco) embarks on a peculiar trip when she gives her famous neighbor a ride to the local ferry, and an eight-year-old girl takes a wrong turn on the way to school and finds herself in an unexpected adult world.
Here we have three disparate stories, all potentially interesting, but thanks to a script that goes out of its way to be non-linear in form, the film goes nowhere. But the script is the least of this film’s problems. Clearly directed by a pseudo-intellectual, the film lacks any sense of cinematic cohesion. It’s an artless mess of a movie, that is over-directed with flashes of simplistic symbolism, meaningless shots of trees [yes we know it’s fall, so enough already] and what must be the most atrocious musical score by one Michael Nicholas, to ever be heard on a film’s soundtrack, a score that is overly used and is grating, completely detracting from the film’s narrative. If there is one redeeming feature of this horrendous film, it is Edie Falco’s delightful performance, while the other actors flounder around in a cinematic wasteland.
A slow, pointless and meandering film, commercial prospects are nil, because NOBODY outside of Sundance will see this insufferable film, this excessive piece.

About the Author:

Del Harvey is a co-founder of Film Monthly. He is an independent filmmaker, film director, screenwriter, and film teacher, currently living in Chicago.
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