Last Night

Weekend SIFF Pick: Local Gem

By Josh Feit May 27, 2011

Last night, I saw Treatment, the homegrown feature film written and directed by local musician and writer Sean Nelson and co-directed by Humpday producer Steven Schardt, which I recommended yesterday.

Joshua Leonard as a frantic wannabe

It was good to see a giant turnout at the Egyptian for the local filmmakers. And the hometown talent (Lynn Shelton cinematographer Ben Kasulke on camera too) didn't disappoint. Treatment is a manic, witty comedy ("Failing to buy drugs is not a crime," one nerd informs another as they haplessly drive around ghetto LA trying to buy drugs  for the first time and nervously see a cop drive by.) The movie features a gaggle of nuanced stock characters—ambitious hack, pseudo guru, shallow film star, spoiled rich teen druggie, drug counselor (with her own private problems), and sensitive pal—who all exist in a literate script that is constantly doubling up on the ironic nods and winks and meta entendres.

There's also an oddly touching side plot about the sensitive pal (Nelson) and his capitalist brother (John Hodgman) that ties the movie's cartoon-y action (think Raising Arizona and Requiem for a Dream) to the Great Recession, adding a dose of quiet topical realism to the boisterous plot.

The serious business about self-discovery that leaps into the film in the last 15 minutes is a bit tricky to track, though. The sudden change from meta line readings to straightforward ones, which happens during a bitter monologue from Nelson about surrendering his dreams for his hack friends' (Joshua Leonard) ambitions and culminates when the counselor (Jessica Makinson) breaks down and smacks Leonard in the face, complicates the emotional impact.

Of course, getting meta myself: Maybe that's the point? After all, here I am still thinking about all the strange relationships between all these well-scripted characters.

It's playing again tomorrow at 11 am at the Neptune.
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