At the CineVegas film festival this year, there was Numb, a B&W sci-fi parable about a society succumbing to the effects of a drug. Until the Night was a depressing decline into characters who lost the ability to connect with others. The Time We Killed used random images and diary-ish thoughts to create a dreamlike view of an agoraphobic. All of them were exiles into experimentation, non-linear storytelling and sometimes just abandoning story altogether. Then along came Malachance which wants to be a little bit of everything and fails to connect on every level.Beginning in the dreamlike haze of fortune cookie philosophy, a young man crashes his motorbike and contemplates all the “what ifs” of his life. Since it’s just an introduction, its reasonable to assume that this kid’s been through a bad week or is at least smart enough to answer his own questions with some degree of original rationale. Don’t get your hopes up past the opening credits.
Mika (James Ransone) has been running drugs for some local goombas and has a pair of friends. Ringo (Brandon Quinn) is the atypical dude you berate others for bringing to the party. Sal (Greg Wayne) is the in-between, softer third wheel who likes to dress the part yet refuses to take the job his grandfather set-up for him (by telegram!) Sal wants to get out of the racket. The Ramirez Twins are back in town and Sal wants out. Sal stares at the ceiling and talks to himself. The Ramirez Twins are back. Have I mentioned that? Who the hell are The Ramirez Twins?
This is the dream, or more appropriately, the night terror that we find ourselves in as it takes the better part of two acts for a movie to show up. I don’t even know if to reveal how Sal plays his hand could be considered a spoiler. It takes a full hour in an 84-minute film to get to what’s actual spoken of on the film’s poster. (“Have a memory. Have 2 friends. Have an accident. Go to Coney Island. Steal an identity. Know a girl. Get caught. Self implode. Good or bad luck.”) There you go. Thirty words or less, I’ve just pitched you Malachance. Still need to see it?
Writer/director Gerardo Naranjo has a story to tell (personal experience or not), he just doesn’t know how to tell it. Chapters are broken up with Frasier/Clerks-like title cards, but the scenes normally don’t mesh with one another, let alone within themselves. We’ve seen the brawl done in mostly still frames and a wingman date, rife with potential, is discarded before it picks up any steam. Even a later blossoming romance with a co-worker (nicely played by Nancy Anne Ridder) has about eight minutes before it’s tossed aside.“So long, suckers” is the daily mantra coming from two benchwarmers overlooking the passing ships. Such brave words from those “living the life” while others work the daily grind for a living. Sal watches these two, they steal his blanket and finally we have some semblance of an overall meaning worth exploring; the working-class vs. the moocher’s mentality in society. But, alas, it’s a catch phrase that will echo freshly in your mind if you paid to experience Malachance. Bottom line: If you ever walked by a park bench and wondered about the story behind the guy using it as his personal slumber pad – don’t – because it’s likely not that interesting and you could invent a better one.