Title – ‘Finding Neighbors‘
Director – Ron Judkins
Starring – Michael O’Keefe, Catherine Dent, Blake Bashoff, Julie Mond
Release Date – 2013
Welcome to dispatch number sixty-nine! I welcome you to please insert your favorite sixty-nine related joke/snortle here… Today we’re taking a look at a lovely feel-good mumblecore film shot in Los Angeles about the struggles of an aging marriage and the trials of struggling creatively. It’s true this film does come from a straight perspective, but a lot of the film’s focus comes from a gay next-door neighbor who has his own gay marriage problems.
Meet Sam, he was once a successful graphic novelist, but lately he’s hit a massive creative crisis which is taking a toll on every aspect of his personal life. His last book was a failure and now he’s in trouble with his publisher because he’s late on his new one. One day while procrastinating at a cafe he meets Jeff, a fellow “househusband” who’s acclimating to the “wonders” of married life (aka boredom). Technically it isn’t their first meeting, but their first pleasant meeting as the previous one was a middle-of-the-night misunderstanding wherein Jeff thought Sam was spying on him. It turns out that Jeff is a big fan of Sam’s early works and they strike up an easy friendship. Sam’s wife is a therapist so as you can imagine she’s constantly trying to analyze his current mid-life crisis. She suspects he’s sleeping with this really cute girl next door and has no clue that he’s really just spending all his time with Jeff.
I thought this movie was pretty darn cute. It definitely has a rough “indie” feel, but you can really tell that a lot of love went into this film. The pressure to constantly be a creative force in your professional life is something a lot of people can relate to and the character of Sam does a great job of relaying that to the audience. I do wish they’d dressed Jeff in clothes that actual gay men would wear and not those horrid button down dress shirts, but hey, straight people can’t do fashion as well as the gays! There are a lot of fun actors in these roles: Sam is played by Michael O’Keefe who was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting work in ‘The Great Santini”. Mary, his wife is played by Catherine Dent who you probably will know from ‘The Shield’. And in the role of Jeff’s husband Paul you’ll definitely recognize the hunky Sean Patrick Thomas from ‘Save the Last Dance’ and ‘Cruel Intentions’.
I’ll leave you today with the director’s statement on the film which will give you a bit more of an idea behind his inspiration for the film:
How does someone remain “relevant” in a youth-obsessed culture? How do people nourish intimate relationships long after the honeymoon is over? Is there a difference in the nature of love in gay vs. straight relationships? How do we maintain a sense of humor and grace while negotiating many of life’s setbacks?
The character of Sam in the story is any one of us who wonders if the creative edge that he once took for granted will still serve him. Mary is any one of us who as the dutiful spouse is forced to question whether the trust in her marriage is well founded. Jeff is any young man whose fixation on his past immobilizes him. Sherrie is any woman reveling in the heady powers of her sexuality, but yearning for more substantial relationships. These characters are people that I know.
I don’t see many filmmakers addressing these questions. But I know that the audience is there. I am the audience.
I’m smack dab in mid-life. Some of my peers are retiring, some “passing by the wayside,” and more than a few are feeling that modern culture has somehow passed them by. And in a large sense it has. But I consider this a great opportunity, because I am a member of one of the greatest underserved film audiences of all time: the aging baby boomers.
The studios produce very little content for this generation. Independent producers provide even less. And all the while, millions of us go to the theaters, rent DVDs and download to our flat screens, week in and week out.
But when I began writing Finding Neighbors, I wasn’t thinking about audiences or targeting markets. That’s really not my forte. I merely wanted to write and create something to which I could relate, something that concerned itself with issues that are close to me.
Watch it with: Your hus-bear!
Mix it with: Some chardonnay – the perfect suburban drink.