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Pop-Up (review)

13244123_584851385025259_5888405629656044175_oProduced by Becks  Abramovic, Stuart McBratney,
Eduard Schneider, Ryan Walker
Written and Directed by Stuart McBratney
Starring Clara Voda, Eugene Gilfedder,
Greg Powell,B renton Prince, Ellacoco Hammer,
Maria Ploae, Laura Vasiliu, Evan Olman,
David Elliot and Melissa Hanes

Pop-Up is a quirky, slice-of-life tale of 3 strangers whose lives are connected by a seemingly small event.

Mick is an out of work father, struggling to raise his daughter.  Rada is a Romanian immigrant to Australia, left alone in a foreign city after she is dumped by her boyfriend. Neil is the trust-fund baby, looking for purpose in his life after several failed attempts to launch.

Each struggle with a loss, but find new direction and opportunities when a simple act of kindness touches each of them.

Long-time commercial writer/director Stuart McBratney makes his first feature film debut with Pop-Up .  McBratney’s background comes through strongly in the film.  For a low-budget, foreign film there are moments containing slick camera angles, artsy framing, and beautiful color grading.  His use of the montage is what shows McBratney’s hand as a director used to telling a story in 15-30 sec segments. In many ways it’s these short bytes of storytelling that help string together what is mostly an uneven film.

When he tackles scenes with a large amount of dialog, the film inevitably slows down and becomes static.  It’s like McBratney forgot all the tricks of his trade, or perhaps because he is also the writer, he is bogged down with his own words and cannot be objective to know where another rewrite would have benefited the overall script.  There is a repeating theme that we all “mesh” together to become apart of one great story.  However, this theme is undermined by the abrupt jump cuts between storylines.  The 3 stories feel like they were mashed together haphazardly instead of a thoughtful interweaving.  It seems very little happens for large amounts of time and then we are then we are thrust into the next story.  The method of telling the story is jarring.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the film is the standout performance is given by Eugene Gilfedder as Mick, the single dad trying to raise his daughter amidst his own grief.  Mick’s relationship with his daughter are some of the most touching scenes in the film. By contrast, unfortunately I found Rada’s storyline bland, making it hard to see how she can become the catalyst for changes in the other characters’ lives.  Neil is just downright obnoxious, and his change in attitude seems so flimsy that it hurts and detracts from what is meant to be a feel-good Hollywood style ending.  It felt like it took a long time to get anywhere, only to have everything hurried and wrapped up abruptly.

While I can see great potential in McBratney’s film, it ends up coming off like a film student’s senior thesis.  A film full of good ideas that are undermined by his inexperience in feature length story telling.


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