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Overall Rating
3.22

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average66.67%
Pretty Bad: 11.11%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 3 user ratings


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Straight Line
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by Chris Parry

"Boy loses mom, then loses self, then finds girl, then loses girl."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: When you talk to first time filmmaker Sean Ackerman about his film, he's very careful about how he asks for your time. "Don't even think about it as a Hollywood film," he says, "Just look at it in terms of style, mood, and feel." Well, okay then - I did just that. And I have to say, Ackerman's advice is good. Straight Line is not a film I would send out to a distributor and say "you must release this flick," but it is a journey that is well worth taking if you have an open mind, a restless soul, and a long line of life mistakes that you're pissed off about.

Bobby Line (Sean Ackerman) just had his mom die, and he's not too happy about the fact. For many of us, that might be the catalyst for a breakdown or spate of denial or a drinking binge that would put hairs on the chest of a bronze nun. For our hero, it's reason enough to go live in Montana.

There Bobby finds a strange girl in the woods by the name of Sophie (Shannon Shultz), who for some reason just won't leave the whiny boob alone. He tells her to leave, he treats her like crap, but she keeps on coming back, just because he's different. This playing out of every thinking man's fantasy extends to a brief romance, where Bobby's demons keep pushing her away, until she finally decides to give up on the guy altogether and go to a place she's always wanted to visit - Panama.

What follows is not so much a surprise as it is a lengthy set-up for what's really the point in all this - Bobby realizing the value of what he has and chasing his dream girl to the ends of the earth. That, in real life, entailed a multi-format film shoot based out of an old Buick, which was driven across five countries. Ackerman, telling his tale in a distinctly non-linear style, with a different film format for each part of the story, has definitely got high hopes when it comes to the cinematic form. Lugging 35mm cameras up mountains with a crew that would fit in the back seat of that old Buick, ad a budget that would barely fill the tank, he has set out to make a film that is by no means ordinary, in a way that is nothing short of extraordinary.

Certainly there seems to be a lot of Ackerman in Bobby Vine - Ackerman himself moved to a small Montana town after high school, in search of who knows what - and he seems hell-bent on making the simple things hard and the hard things impossible, but you have to respect the fact that he's taken the road less traveled and kicked its ass.

The bottom line on the quality or otherwise of Straight Line is very much otherwise. The acting is middling to poor, the dialogue tends to run into the self-indulgent, and the gimmickry behind the story structure and the production itself does wear thin pretty quickly. Yes, it must have been a hell of an adventure to make this film, and it's great that the film is good enough to warrant a spot at a film festival as well known as SXSW, but in the end you really have to compare every film to every other film. Production adventures aside, all you're left with in Straight Line is beautiful imagery, an amazingly soft mood, and a whiny lead character that deserves a good clip around the ears for not knowing what he has in life.

I guess we've all been that guy once or twice in our lives, and if we're lucky we found our Sophie and made it back from the brink, but a word of advice to Sean Ackerman for his next directorial outing (which he fully deserves to get) - aim for the bigger target. Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11707&reviewer=1
originally posted: 03/22/05 10:53:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/09/10 Marc Willow Dreadful 2 stars
4/05/05 Daniel Barlow Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful 4 stars
2/19/05 Drew Thomas Wow 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  N/A
  DVD: 18-Dec-2008

UK
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Australia
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Directed by
  Sean Ackerman

Written by
  Sean Ackerman

Cast
  Sean Ackerman
  Shannon Shultz
  Monika Franzen
  Sam Baker



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