10:46 AM — The Nashville Film Festival is entering the home stretch. There are only three days left, but still plenty of good films to see.
Last night was a late one. I watched “The Troll Hunter” as part of the festival’s graveyard shift, and didn’t leave the theater until after 11:30. After I got home, I finished up yesterday’s report and didn’t get in bed until after 2:00 this morning. I also started feeling a little under the weather last night and it is continuing today. I think I need to take a little time and get well.
But fear not. I won’t leaving you hanging. My buddy Jerry Holthouse who runs Nashville.com will be attending the first couple movies of the day and sharing his thoughts. In the meantime, I will be drinking plenty of fluids and getting a little extra sleep (not at the same time) so I can make it to the final few films of the day. Stay tuned. We still have plenty of good stuff for you.
7:27 – Megan Griffiths, the director and writer of “The Off Hours,” worked for two months in a dark, dank diner where the employees hoped for better lives, but never did anything to make those wishes a reality. As a result, they spent years in dead end jobs, never breaking out of their circumstances. Megan took that experience and put it into her script for “The Off Hours.”
“The Off Hours” is a dark (figuratively and literally), depressing film that tells the story of Francine (played by Amy Seimetz), a waitress who has been at the same diner for 12 years and, although she wants more out of life, has not done anything about it. She lives with her foster brother (the closest thing to family she has) Cory (Scoot McNairy), who drinks too much and refuses to get a job. Francine’s boss, Stu is an alcoholic struggling with his addiction, as well as trying to convince his estranged 15-year old daughter to spend some time with him. Jelena (Gergana Mellin), Francine’s co-worker, is a former mail order bride from Serbia, who is estranged from her husband and son. Oliver, a banker-turned-truck-driver, is Francine’s most serious love interest, despite the fact that he is married with two kids.
These characters, along with a handful of others, are leading mundane, hopeless lives. By the end of the film, I realized that none of the characters have grown, none have matured, and none have done anything about their circumstances, with the possible exception of Francine, although that is not at all clear.
It’s not that the film wasn’t good. It was good. I thought Griffiths did a terrific job directing the film, and the music by Joshua Morrison gets high marks. In addition, the acting was very good. But I don’t want to walk out of a film feeling worse than when I went into it. I want to see the characters grow, overcome obstacles, and at least gain some insight, or faith, or hope, or something. I don’t need a happy ending with everything tied up with a nice little bow, but I would like the film to at least move the characters forward. That didn’t happen in “The Off Hours.”