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'Downtown Owl' review: Lily Rabe at the center of a touching small-town tragic comedy

Some movies—many movies—are less than the sum of their parts. Downtown Owl, a novice teacher’s tale of brandishing, drinking, and a heartfelt awkward encounter in a fictional North Dakota town that happens to be the sum of its parts . That’s no knock; the ingredients are no less compelling, fueled by a playful yet energetic sense of the cinema and a strong cast, with Lily Rabe delivering a full-fledged Vibrant luminosity and comedic chops take center stage. Rabe also helms the film with her life partner and actor Hamish Linklater , as the novice directors manage to make a big difference in their first feature. A tricky needle is threaded in the film, navigating the chasms and overlaps between excitement and quiet, cartoony brightness and anxiety.

Source material, Fiction essayist Chuck Klosterman’s novel of the same name is less a riveting narrative than a vivid collection of personality types sifted through hyperlocal 1983 atmosphere. Hamish’s screenplay stands out from much of the pop culture commentary, focusing on the characters and weaving Great Plains melodies into familiar indie tropes — misfits, misbehaviors, meltdowns and breakouts. The prairie blizzard at the end of the story casts the shadow of the hand of fate, which sneaks into all sorts of eccentric and sad settings, and its effects surface and are fully felt in the film’s shot of the sun-plexus closure sequence.

Downtown Owl

Bottom line One tweet, full of joy.

Tribeca Film Festival (Focus on Narrative)

Throwing: Lily Rabe, Ed Harris , Vanessa Hudgens , August Blanco Rosenstein , Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Whitlock, Henry Golding , Arianna Jaffel, Hamish Linklater, Arden Michalek, Ben Shaw, Emma Harling
director: Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater
Hamish Linklater; based on a novel by Chuck Klosterman
1 hour minutes

main action in September started when Julia Rabia of Rabe came in her little owl- A semester teaching job in high school, recommended to the principal by her professor father (with a brief, hilarious twist for Linklater). She overzealously tells nearly every adult she meets that this time is scheduled to give space to her husband (unnamed, unseen, unheard) as he returns to Milwaukee for his Ph.D. dissertation last few laps. In addition to the blizzard, here’s the shadow that hangs over the story: the way Julia marries, including the possibility of children, depends on her spouse’s career plans as he aims for tenure.

On her drunken late-night calls home, the disconnect between them is as clear as country daylight. If you’ve been mourning the classic cinematic device of the one-way phone — an indelible moment in cinema over the years whose power simply can’t be matched by a glimpse of an on-screen text message — Hamish’s script revitalizes the tactic Rabe excels in Julia’s tense conversations with her husband, father, and mother, ending with a harrowing sequence as she teeters on the edge, or bottom.

In the novel, Julia and the other two main protagonists – a student and a septuagenarian regular – do not interact; here, they interact to varying degrees done. Two sensitive males are understated and perfectly played: August Blanco Rosenstein as brooding-eyed Mitch Herica, the school’s reluctant backup quarterback, and Ed Harris as Holler Jones, whose quiet daily life is shaped around shocking events on the family front.

As for the other men in town, Julia in Received an eye-opening introduction during a visit to Hugo’s, the inner-city bar the principal had warned her to avoid. For co-worker Naomi, played by Vanessa Hudgens in delightfully gruff mouth mode, Hugo’s home is the center of the owl universe. Within minutes of her first appearance at a dive bar, Julia meets a group of lonely single men with amazing nicknames, two of whom are ready to take her to see Valley City this weekend ET, the hit movie they had heard about for years.

But when dashing bison rancher Vance Druid (Henry Golding) enters the bar, wearing his cowboy hat and wrangler, Julia enters a new state of alertness. Heeding Naomi’s admonition to “start living a little,” she hit the ground running. Rabe’s staccato proposals to Julia are comically tinged, and the friction is heightened by subtitles in the form of neon signs marking the contrast between what she said to Vance and what she really meant to say. It’s a clever way of emphasizing the gap between her goofy exuberant openness and his ultra-conservative. But after several promising exchanges, if unbalanced, Julia sees this reservation as rejection, and her deep disappointment with Vance is partly due to her unexpressed anger at her husband.

Like Mickey, who prefers basketball to grills – a blasphemous preference of football-worshiping owls – Vance and his high school senior Shooting guards have mostly unhappy relationships. Julia learns this intricate backstory of shame and glory from Horace, who also breaks from his usual grumpy demeanor to denounce the school’s coach, Laidlaw (Finn Wittrock), as “a real sex offender.” “. Mickey embarks on a mission to hold Laidlow responsible for impregnating the classmate Tina (Arden Michalek) he fell in love with—a mission that makes both the character and the film feel disconnected. He’s aided and abetted by classmate Eli (Jack Dylan Grazer), a fanatical bombast reminiscent of Naomi, and Libe, a self-proclaimed genius. Ka (Arianna Jaffair), who whispers in public places such as Julia’s classroom.

Storylines can feel convoluted and disjointed, but it doesn’t matter if they come together with the utmost flow, what matters is that the characters’ disparate and conflicting The way they communicate reveals more and more about them. In this portrait of remoteness and isolation, Eli and Naomi’s machine-gun chatter reveals a startling confidence, but it’s tinged with desperation, and in the middle of a high school melodramatic clash. growing up healthily.

Rabe and Linklater, two accomplished veterans of stage and screen, draw such meticulous attention from their cast It’s no surprise that the nuanced pieces work. But as the helm, they did more than that, judiciously deploying meta-touches that hit anticipated chords and delivered a smooth flow to this invented small-town world (played by the Minneapolis-St. Paul area). visual language. Production designer Francesca Palombo’s contribution to living detail and sublime is first-rate. and the cinematography of Barton Cortright (known for his formalistic work with Ricky D’Ambrose, including The Cathedral) uses widescreen framing to defy rural clichés and embrace the simplest touches of surrealism.

Everything about Downtown Owl is down to earth and over the top, and many of its scenes are made with an unexpected mix of sadness and joy Add fuel to the fire, or the sweetness of rage and pain. Long shots of a conversation between Tina and Mickey in the school gymnasium where almost everything is unsaid, or the striking diamond-shaped window over the patient’s bed, like a portal between the flesh and the spirit. With T Bone Burnett at the helm, the soundtrack is an uplifting and evocative mix of Americana, and crucially, Elvis Costello is the only recording artist the key man listens to.

If the character’s much-hyped plot quests aren’t always obvious at a glance, Julia Rabia’s unraveling packs a punch of narrative punch. Rabe, at Miss Stevens – she plays a high school teacher who is in danger of making some very bad decisions – dives into it with gusto. So does Julia, all dolled up, with neatly combed hair and tights, waiting for Vance to walk through Hugo’s door while the bartender (Ben Shaw) compliments her on her “stripper look.”

In Downtown Owl, Rabe and Hamish capture a world that is self-enclosed and bursting at the seams. Rabe’s performance allows us to watch a man pop out of the narrow ramparts and begin to find himself in the process, from self-blaming facial gymnastics after every perceived faux pas to drunken breakdowns — and Where? — High school football field. Perhaps never having recalled her mother Jill Kleinberg as much as she does here, she brings a heartrending glow to the film. When Golding is heartbroken, hurtful, and reticent to pour out “I thought my life was going to be better than it is,” who’d rather listen? Who can make him smile more? Full credits 1235218152

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Focus on Narrative)

Distributor: Sony/Stage 6 Films Producer: Kill Claudio, Esme Grace Cast: Lily Rabe, Ed Harris, Vanessa Hudgens, August Blanco Rowe Sunstein, Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Whitlock, Henry Golding, Arianna Jaffair, Hamish Linklater, Arden Michalek, Ben Shaw, Emma Harleen, Alan Arias
Director: Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater Writer: Hamish Linklater
Adapted from Chuck Klostermann’s novel
Producer: Bettina· Barrow, Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater, Rebecca Green Executive Producers: Laura Rister, T Bone Burnett, Lee Broda, Joel Michaely, Gemma Levinson, Thomas McLeod, Andrew Martin Weber, Kyle Stroud, Tristin Alexandria, David Gendron, Ali Jazayeri , Liz Destro, Viviana Zarragoitia
Director of Photography: Barton Cortright
Production Designer: Francesca Palombo Costume designer: Kimberly Leitz

Editor: Nena Erb
Composers: T Bone Burnett, Patrick Warren, Zachary Dawes
Casting: Hannah Cooper 1 hour minute THR Communications 875024

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