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'You sing louder, I sing louder' review: Ewan McGregor and daughter Clara McGregor in an uneven parent-child drama

Loosely casting father and daughter in the drama based on their own relationship, in You Sing Louder, I Sing Louder, creates a blurred line between reality and fiction.

This spotty indie road trip drama is sometimes too monotonous, but always engaging, thanks to its two stars who always dominate the screen. Ewan McGregor as a gardener, driving his daughter in a pickup truck, played by Clara McGregor plays , to a destination he doesn’t share with her or us until it gets into the movie. Yet we immediately see the distance between them, which is as vast as the vast, empty New Mexico landscape they’re passing through, a lonely stretch of desert and scrub. He’s clearly nervous with worry, and she’s belligerent. Their characters don’t have names and serve no purpose because these people are very specific. But the slow reveal of information works better than nameless tricks, allowing their actions and conversations, or silence, to set a tone of naturalism as we learn the backstory.

You sing louder, I sing louder

Bottom line Saved by the glamorous stars.

Location: SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Spotlight) Cast: Clara McGregor, Ewan McGregor, Vera Boulder, Jack Weery, Kim Zimmer director:Emma Westenberg Author: Ruby Custer 1 hour minutes

When the daughter stuffed a few bottles of wine in the pocket of the jacket at the roadside convenience store We got clues when Dad had the phone and another bottle of talk about finding a place in rehab. We know she was hospitalized that morning for an overdose, he was taking her for help whether he liked it or not, and they barely know each other anymore because he left his marriage when she was a baby.

It’s not just about stunts here. Both Ewan and Clara McGregor have opened up about their personal struggles with addiction and alienation, issues that are now in the past. Clara co-wrote the film’s story with Vera Bulder and Ruby Caster, and Ewan says that while the road trip is fictional, You Sing Loud is “a reflection of us and our stories. ’ Other details were also invented. The film’s daughter was much younger than Clara at the time of her parents’ divorce, but like her on-screen counterpart, she admits to having a hard time accepting her father’s second wife (actually Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael Greg has a young child with her, like the father in the movie). Here, the emotional trauma of both sides of the parent-child relationship is portrayed with stark honesty, as the characters work toward the father’s hope for a fresh start in every way.

The subtext of real life is hard to ignore, and sometimes it seems like a scrim between us and the fictional world. This is mostly because of the film’s structure and direction – this is the first feature film directed by Emma Westerberg, who made the series Dollface and Music Videos and Episodes from Little Voice — sometimes tedious and obvious. Because of the difficulty of getting fully into the set of the film, the real-life relationship never quite fades away.

There are some elegant touches, including sporadic quick flashbacks of the daughter who thinks she is a little girl with her playful, attentive father. But, as the plot progresses, we can often feel the wheels turning. There are detours on the road that introduce some eccentric characters, presumably for the sake of excitement. The snooty tow truck driver (Kim Zimmer) takes them to her house, and her nephew (Jack Wiery) wears a clown costume to a birthday party. There is a frantic rush to find a drug store and a free-spirited hooker (Bourd, also one of the film’s producers) who dances to the glittering lights of the road. Christopher Ripley’s photography effectively captures the emptiness around them for much of the journey, and the colorful places they land, but there are too many beautiful shots of the horizon.

Even though the story looks awkward, the actors keep us watching. Ewan McGregor, of course, is one of our best and most versatile actors, as believable as Obi-Wan Kenobi or a regular guy trying to save his daughter from falling into drug addiction. Model and actress Clara McGregor, who starred in American Horror Story: New York , has a striking face and is a natural in this role. That’s not a given. Film history is littered with people who couldn’t play versions of themselves, but she held her own on screen.

At its best, You Sing Loud is exhilarating. During a happy, cheery moment, the father and daughter sang Leona Lewis’s hit song “Bleeding Love” together, only to be interrupted by a call from the father’s young son — the call clearly upset the daughter. The film could have used more of this clever juxtaposition.

Towards the end, both father and daughter release their emotions: his genuine concern and regret, her hurt and damaged sense of self. That visceral scene needed building, but maybe it was more dynamic from the start.

Full credits

Venue: SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Focus)
Production companies: Deux Dames Entertainment, Black Magic, Killer Films, Sobini Films

Cast: Clara McGregor, Ewan McGregor, Vera Bull De, Jack Werey, Kim Zimmer Director: Emma Westenberg Screenwriter: Ruby Caster (screenwriter ); Clara McGregor, Vera Bulder, Ruby Caster (story writers) Producers: Christine Vachon, Mark Amin, Clara McGregor, Vera Bulder, Greg Lauritiano, Mason Plotts, Cami Winikoff Executive Producers: Ewan McGregor, Emma Westenberg, Tyler Boehm, Brent Morris Cinematographer: Christopher Ripley Production designer: Stephonik Costume Design: Sophie Hardeman Clip: Autumn Dea Music: Raven Aartsen Casting: Angelique Midthunder

Sales: UTA 1 hour minutes

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